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By Professor George L. Burr, Cornell University. 

When, just three hundred years ago, in the spring of the 
year 1589, it was whispered abroad in Europe that no less a 
personage than Dr. Dietrich Flade, of Trier,* city Judge of 
that oldest of German towns, Dean of its juristic faculty, 
ex-Rector of its university, a councillor of the Archbishop- 
Elector himself, had been put on his trial for witchcraft, 
men turned with a shudder of interest to watch the result. 
And when, in mid-September of that year, there came the 
further tidings that he had been convicted on his own con- 
fession and burned at the stake, pious folk everywhere drew 
a long sigh of relief that at last a ringleader of the horrid 
crew of Satan had, spite of money and influence, been 
brought to the fate he deserved. No voice anywhere was 
raised in protest or in question. No word of pity found its 
way into print. 

But never again, even in Germany, did the persecution 
strike so high. Though two centuries of witch-burning fol- 
lowed, Dietrich Flade remains to our day its most eminent 
victim in the land of its greatest thoroughness. And in 
these later years of failing faith men have dared to ask 
whether he was, after all, guilty of the preternatural crime 
laid to his charge, and to wonder what other cause may 
have brought the accusation which cost his life. Wide has 
been the field of conjecture. Was he, perhaps, a martyr 
who brought suspicion on himself by opposing the persecu- 
tion of others ? Was he a heretic, whose politic foes found 

' Better known to us, though a German city, by its Gallicized name of 
Treves, or Treves. 

189] 3 

4 George L. Burrs Paper. [190 

it easier to burn him as a witch than as a Protestant ? Was 
he only a corrupt magistrate, for whom this seemed the 
most convenient method of impeachment ? Did he but owe 
his death to the maHce of some spiteful criminal, — to the 
cunning of some private foe, — to the greed of some heir who 
coveted his wealth ? Each of these theories might be sus- 
tained by contemporary hints, and either is but too sadly 
plausible in the light of what we know of his time ; but the 
scholars who have thus speculated as to the fate of Dietrich 
Flade have been forced to add that the one document 
which might have answered their question — the minutes of 
his trial — has long been lost to research.' 

That document lies before me"; and it is upon the basis 

' What has been known about Flade is, all told, very little. Just before 
the middle of the last century, Hauber, stirred to curiosity by the allusion of 
Delrio, discussed his fate in the chapter of his Bibliotheca magica which has 
remained the main source for all later historians of witchcraft ; but, beside 
Delrio, Hauber had no materials save the bare mention by the contemporary 
Cratepolius. Later in the eighteenth century, the eminent Trier historian and 
Vice-Bishop, Hontheim, gave to Flade a foot-note of sympathetic appreciation ; 
while the Trier jurist, Neller, on the other hand, blackened his fame by resur- 
recting for a student's thesis the Elector's letter to the theological faculty (see 
page 36 below). In 1817, the city librarian, Wyttenbach (in his Versuch 
einer Geschichte von Trier, published as a serial in the Trierischer Adress- 
kalender, 1810-22), would gladly have told more about him ; but the records 
of his trial, which were known to have shortly before existed at Trier, Wytten- 
bach could not find, though he found men who had read them. In iBiB, how- 
ever, the Echternach antiquary, Clotten, produced what seemed fragments of 
them. They were printed by Muller (in the Trierisches Wochenblatt for iSiS, 
Nos. 49-51), and were afterward given to the city library at Trier, in whose 
keeping they still are. When, a few years later, the two last-named historians 
(Wyttenbach and MtlUer) published their edition of the Gesta Trevirorum, 
they added to its third volume (1839) a valuable note on Flade. The later 
histories of Trier, including even the elaborate work of Marx, add nothing to 
our knowledge of him. The article upon him, by Professor Dr. Kraus, in the 
Allgemeine deutsche Biographie contributes, however, one or two fresh facts. 

* Since 1883 it has been in the possession of the President White library at 
Cornell University. Glancing through an old-book catalogue issued, late in 1882, 
by Albert Cohn, of Berlin, my eye lit on the title of this manuscript. I laid it 
before President White, who at once, spite of an inaccuracy in the name, 
divined that it was the trial of Dr. Flade, whose case he knew well through 
his researches in this field. We ordered it forthwith, and were overjoyed both 
to secure it and to find it what we had hoped. Of its earlier fortunes I have 

191] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 5 

of this and of other papers* which have hitherto escaped the 
historians that I wish to discuss once more the story of his 

For at least three generations the Flades had been loyal 
servants of the Electors of Trier. Before the close of the 
fifteenth century Hupert Flade had left his Luxemburg 
home at St. Vith to enter the archiepiscopal Kanzlei ; and 
he had received more than one substantial recognition of 
his worth as a secretary before he found himself snugly 

been able to learn only that it was for a time in the possession of the well- 
known Coin bookseller, Lempertz, who offered it in a catalogue of 1874. 
Whence it had come into his hands he could in 1886 no longer remember. It 
was bought from him by a Coin collector, at the dispersion of whose library 
it drifted to the shelves of the Berlin dealer. Wyttenbach's words as to its loss 
are : " Bis auf unsere Zeiten waren die Originalpapiere dieses Prozesses auf- 
bewahrt worden ; aber sie sind entkommen, man weiss nicht wohin. Ich habe 
sie nie gelesen ; aber man sagt mir, dass darin der Doctor der Zauberey selbst 
gestandig gewesen." It is possible that, with so much else, they went astray 
during the French occupation. I hope to print the manuscript as an appendix 
to my forthcoming catalogue of the President White collection on witchcraft. 
It is a folio, neatly written in a Kanzlei hand familiar to the contemporary 
records at Trier. Of its original 126 leaves, the first is detached and sadly 
worn ; the second is wholly gone (I have fortunately been able to supply its 
contents from the fragments at Trier), while ff. 105, 106 (a part of Flade's 
confession — the later Urgicht suggests their substance) have been rudely cut 
out, their stubs remaining. Else the document is complete, beginning with 
the first calling together of the court, and ending with the execution. The 
Clotten fragments (see last note), still preserved at Trier, were never a part of 
it, but are rather the original papers from which this final protocol was drawn 
up. They comprise : (i) Most of the Fath report, in what I believe the hand- 
writing of that commissioner ; (2) all the miscellaneous reports therewith sub- 
mitted to the court by the Elector (see note on page 32 below) ; (3) the minutes 
of the proceedings connected with Flade's arrest, in the handwriting of the 
court clerk, Wilhelm von Biedborgh ; (4) three more or less complete reports 
of the first examination of Flade, partly in the handwriting of Biedborgh, 
partly in a Kanzlei hand resembling that of our own protocol. These could 
not have been what Wyttenbach's informant had seen, for they contain nothing 
of Flade's confession, nor indeed of his trial proper. A brief account of our 
own manuscript, by Dr. William H. Carpenter, now of Columbia College, was 
published in the library bulletin of Cornell University in April, 1883. 

' Of these the most important are : (l) The annual reports, manuscript and 
printed, of the Trier Jesuits ; (2) the remains at Trier of the judicial records 
of the witch-trials ; (3) the significant passages of Brouwer and of Binsfeld. 
There has been, indeed, hitherto no attempt at investigation of the case. 

6 George L. Burrs Paper. [192 

established as Cellarer, or Steward, of the Electoral estates 
at Pfalzel, on the Moselle, just below Trier.' His son, 
Johann," the father of Dietrich, rose to the responsible posi- 
tion of town clerk of the neighboring city itself. 

When Dietrich Flade was born, or where he gained his 
education for the law, does not appear. Inheriting position 
and wealth, he would seem to have early devoted himself to 

' Thus, on December 31, 1495, the Elector "verschreibt dem Hupert Flade 
eine iahrrente von 4 malter frucht und 4 ohm wein " ; on June 25, 1499, 
he " giebt seinem kanzleischreiber Hupert Flade von St. Vyt und dessen 
ehefrau Margaretha Kellners von Ellenz anstatt einer weinrente von 4 ohm, 
auf lebenszeit einen wingert zu Fankel" ; and on June 28, 1499, ^^ " belehnt 
denselben Hupert Flad mit 4 wingerten zu EUentz " (Goerz, Rege^ten d. Erzb, 
zu Trier). These last gifts were, perhaps, on the occasion of Hupert's mar- 
riage. Both Fankel and EUentz are on the Moselle, near Cochem, whence the 
deeds of gift are dated. That Dietrich was a grandson of Hupert, there can, 
I think, be little doubt. In the Neue Zeitung of 1594 (see note on page 45 
below), the ill-fated judge is himself spoken of as " von Kochheim an der 
Mosel." That Hupert Flade became later Electoral Cellarer at Pfalzel, we 
know, on his own testimony, from a paper (in codex 1753 of the Stadt-Biblio- 
thek at Trier), dated " anno 1504 more Trev.," drawn " durch mich Huprech- 
ten Flade von Sant Vyt Kelner zu Paltzel," and signed " Hupt Flade." 
That Dietrich Flade, too, held property at Pfalzel is known to Dr. Kraus (see 
his article on Flade in the Allgemeine deutsche Biographic) from the Pfalzel 
church records. 

* That Johann Flade was Dietrich's father is assumed without question by 
Wyttenbach and Mtiller (in their note to the Gesta Trev.), and is certainly 
probable. In a manuscript still preserved in the City Library at Trier, an 
account of " Wie Frantz von Sieckingen den Stifit beschediget und . . . diess 
Stat Trier belegert haitt" in 1522, compiled from the city records by order of 
the Rath, and written by Johann Flade's own hand, he speaks of himself as 
'* mech, Johannem Flade vonn Sant Vyt der Stat Trier Secretarien." He still 
held this office in 1556 (Hontheim, Hist. Trev. Dipi., ii.), but in 1559 had 
given place to a successor (Peter Dronkmann). 

As to the proper spelling of the name Flade, there can be no doubt ; for, 
though it appears under various disguises (Flad, Fladt, Vlaet, Fladius, Vlae- 
tius, Flattenus) in contemporary sources, all the autographs of the Flades agre,. 
in this form. There lies before me an autograph receipt, given officially by 
Dietrich Flade, June 28, 1587 (I owe it to the scholarly generosity of Dr. Con- 
rad Clippers, of Coin), in which he signs himself " Dietherich Flade doctor | 
Chfl. Tr : Rhat vnd Schultes | zu Trier." The seal {Petschaft) attached bears 
his arms and the initials " T. F. | L. D." (Theodoricus Flade, Legum Doctor?) 
I have found among the documents of the Trier City Library only two bearing 
his signature, though there are several in his handwriting. Dr. Kraus (in the 
Allg. deutsche Biog.) cites two other signatures. All are written " Flade." 

193] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 7 

political life; and we first meet him, in 1559, as a councillor 
of Johann VI., the ablest and most energetic of the Electors 
of Trier in that half-century. It was the critical time of^the 
Protestant attempt to introduce the Reformation into Trier, 
and the young jurist was added to the important Commis- 
sion charged with the suppression of the disorder.' A 
fellow-member of that Commission, the Cathedral-Dean, 
Jacob von Eltz, became eight years later the successor of 
Johann VI. on the archiepiscopal throne ; and it was prob- 
ably to Jacob III., whose best claim to the gratitude of pos- 
terity lies in his care for the courts of his province, that 
Dietrich Flade owed his appointment to one of the highest 
judicial positions in the land — the headship of the civil 
court at Trier, which carried with it an assessor's seat on the 
bench of the supreme tribunal of the Electorate at Coblenz.' 
And when, a few years later, he was honored with the de- 
gree of Doctor of the Civil and of the Canon Law,* a career 

■ "Sexto Septembris" fissg], says Brouwer {Annates Trev., ii., p. 389), 
" junxere se Principis legatis Jacobus ab Eltz templi primarii Decanus, . . . 
Theodoricus Fladius, et Jacobus Henselius jureconsulti." (Yet, a little earlier, 
Brouwer names the same " Theodoricus Fladius" among the members of the 
original Commission — a manifest inconsistency, and doubtless an oversight.) 

* His appointment dates, perhaps, from the Elector's " Reform atio judicii 
scabinalis Trevirensis" in April of 1569. In July of that year the edict re- 
organizing the Coblenz court, names amon^ the assessors "Diederichen Flade, 
unsern Schultheisen zu Trier, etc." (Hontheim, Hist. Dipt. Trev., iii.). The 
office brought with it, too — in Flade's case, at least — the judgeship of the 
jurisdiction of the Cathedral Provost at Trier. Thus, in a collection of " Ur- 
fehden," etc., of the Domprobstei, from the years 1581-93 (codex 1500 of the 
Trier Stadt-Bibliothek), an Urfehde of July 29, 1581, is in his handwriting, 
and a slip of December, 15S3, is addressed to " d. Em. u. Hochgel. Herr 
Dietherich Flad, als Schultbeiss der Dhom Probsteien zu Trier." Very vivid 
becomes his relation to the criminal justice of the city, as one comes upon a 
note to him (of May 9, 1572) announcing that the town council "seiwilligh 
Iren Em : wie von alters den armen gefanghenen menschen mit seiner urgicht, 
so ihn Sant Simeons Thorn [the old Roman Porta Nigra] gefanghen ligt, zu 
lieberen " ; or when one finds, appended to the protocol of the trial of the rob- 
ber Sont^ of Crittenach, in 1574, an account of his formal surrender by the 
city authorities to Dr. Flade, with the formulae spoken by the Stadt-Zender 
and the Judge, respectively. 

^ At some time between 1570 and 1573. An autograph letter of Flade's to the 
Elector (in codex 1775 of the Trier Stadt-Bibliothek), dated February 6, 1570 

8 George L. Burrs Paper. [194 

successful and happy seemed assured to him. By his 
sovereign, at least, he must have been counted a not un- 
worthy servant; for when, in 1580, the decision of the 
Emperor Rudolf put an end to the century-long struggle of 
the city for its civic independence, and the triumphant 
Elector reorganized the government of the town, the 
jurisdiction of the city court was greatly increased and 
Dietrich Flade remained at its head, receiving in virtue of 
his office not only an important seat in the newly framed 
town council, but becoming the Vice-Governor of the 

Nor was his domestic outlook less bright than his public 
one. His wife, a Homphaeus of Cochem," was a kinswoman 
of the great Emmerich humanist of that name ; and her 
brother, Christoph, a fellow-jurisconsult in the service of the 
Elector, had, though a layman, been for a time entrusted 
with the weighty duties of the Ofificialate at Trier, while 
another brother, Peter, was Dean at Pfalzel.* His own 

(" 1569 more Trev."), shows that he had not then the title ; while a report (in 
the same codex), of July 2, 1573, is signed by him as " Dietherich Flade doct : " 
The source of the degree was, very probably, the University of Trier. It was 
not necessarily an honorary one. Wilhelm von Biedborgh, already, in 1572, 
Flade's colleague as court clerk (Gericktschreiber), was examined Iqtc 'Cs\& i.oc\.oT- 
ate by that university in 1588. 

' Hontheim, Hist. Trev. Dipl., iii. 

* This is an inference from his uncleship to the children of Christoph Hom- 
phaeus. It is, of course, quite as possible that the latter married Flade's sister ; 
but Flade himself speaks to the Elector (see page 36 below) of "meiner lieben 
haussfrauwen solicher ansehenlichen freundtschafift," and this tallies well with 
the Homphaei. 

'For the brothers Homphaeus, see Hontheim, Hist. Trev. Dipl., ii,, pp. 
550. 553» 554. iii-. P- 44. ai^d Marx, Geschichte d. Erzstifts Trier, ii., 
p. 494. In 1576, Agricius dedicated a poem to these two " durch Gelehrsam- 
keit ausgezeichneten Sohnen des Christoph Homphaus zu Cochem " (Marx, ii., 
p. 511). Peter, the Emmerich teacher, is said to have been the uncle of these 
two. For Flade's relationship, see Flade trial (it is thus that I shall cite the 
manuscript described above, p. 2), pp. 70, 80, 130, and also pp. 29, 33, 34, of 
the present paper. Christoph Homphaeus died not later than 1587. The 
younger Peter (see p. 28 below), who himself narrowly escaped trial for witch- 
craft, lived till 1600. Thirty years he was Dean at Pfalzel, and twice was 
Rector of the Unive '^ ity of Trier. 

195] TJie Fate of Dietrich Flade. 9 

brother, Dr. Franz Flade, was high in favor at Speyer/ At 
least one son, too, had come to gladden his home.* 

But the storm that was to rob him of fortune, fame, and 
life was already brewing all along the horizon. The witch- 
trials, which, during the earlier part of the century, had 
appeared only sporadically, were settling here and there 
into organized persecutions. In the neighboring Lorraine, 
the terrible Nicolas Remy was already exercising that judge- 
ship, as the fruit of whose activity he could boast a decade 
later of the condemnation of nine hundred witches within 
fifteen years ; and just across the nearer frontier of Luxem- 
burg, now in Spanish hands, the fires were also blazing.* 
Nay, the persecution had already, in 1572, invaded the 
Electorate itself.' It was in that year that, in the domain 

' See Flade trial, p. 8g, and p. 29 below. He, too, at the beginning of his 
career, had served the Elector of Trier; at least, a "Dr. Franz Fladt" is 
mentioned (by Marx, i., p. 377, citing v. Stramberg's Moselthat) as taking 
part, on December i, 1566, in the forcible re-establishment of Catholicism at 
CrOff, in the "Croverreich." 

* Flade trial, p. 38. 

' Remy's book, on whose title-page this boast is made, was, indeed, not 
printed till 1595 ; but he cites no cases later than 1591. He mentions none, it 
is true, earlier than 1581 ; but he expressly tells us in his preface that not till 
he had been five years active as a witch-destroyer did he begin taking notes for 
his book. Of at least one Luxemburg trial, of 1580, a fragment remains at 
Trier. It must be remembered that both Lorraine and Luxemburg were in 
the archdiocese of Trier. In Alsatia the persecution had been raging since 
1570. In the Lutheran county of Sponheim, lying just east of Trier, and cut- 
ting the Electorate nearly in two, we hear, in 1573, of several witches impris- 
oned and tortured at the Wartelstein, near Kirn ; and, in 1574, of one at 
Castellaun. (See Back, Die evangeliscke Kirche zwischen Rhein, Mosel u. 
Nahe, iii., pp. 249, 250, 352.) 

* It is, of course, not my purpose here to narrate the history of the witch- 
persecution at Trier, save in so far as is necessary to explain the fate of Flade. 
I have, indeed, long hoped to devote a study to that episode, which has seemed 
to me of an importance quite unique in the history of witchcraft ; and during 
two stays abroad, in 1884-86 and 1888, I was able to gather for its illustration 
not a little which has been of incidental value to the present study. Beside 
parts of the minutes of three or four of the trials, all that has been published 
upon it is : (l) a little pamphlet, printed in 1830 by the Trier antiquary, M. F. 
J. Miiller, under the title of Kleiner Beitrag zur Geschichte des Hexenwesens 
im XVI. Jahrhundert, which is an account of only a single manuscript 
source (the St. Maximin witch-register — see note on page 20 below) ; (2) a 

lo George L. Burr s Paper. [196 

of the abbey of St. Maximin, whose long contest against 
the temporal jurisdiction of the Elector had been closed by 
an imperial decision in 1570, a poor creature named Eva, 
from the village of Kenn, imprisoned and convicted on a 
charge of child-murder, was dragged from her cell and, in 
the absence of the magistrate, tortured further into a con- 
fession of witchcraft. Two old women implicated by her 
went with her to the stake ; and two more victims of her 
accusations were still under the torture when our record of 
the episode breaks off.' 

magazine series (with a running appendix of witch-trials), by the Coblenz 
jurist, A. F. J. Liel, on Die Verfolgung der Zauberer und Hexen in dem Kur- 
fiirstenthume Trier (in the Archiv fiir Rheinische Geschichie, i., 1833), which 
unfortunately broke off with a mere introduction ; and (3) the little contribution 
of Dr. Hennen, to be mentioned in my next note. 

' For the details of this episode, see the little pamphlet published by Dr. 
Gerhard Hennen, in 1887 : Ein Hexenprozess aus der Umgegend von Trier 
aus dem yahre 1J72. There is every internal evidence that the case of Eva 
of Kenn was the first witch-trial in its region. The prime mover in the out- 
rage I believe to have been Peter Omsdorf, notary of the ecclesiastical court at 
Trier, whose acquaintance we shall make later (see p. 29 below). It was he 
who, in the absence of both Amtmann and Schultheiss, took down Eva's first 
examination for witchcraft. The man implicated by her confession as to her 
child, sent a friend to prefer this charge against her: " darauff ist die Arme 
Person herauss genommen und daruberin gegenwurtigkeitt Meiers und zweyer 
Schoffen auch dess Ernhafften Petri Ombsdorff Notarien in meinem abwesen 
verhortt worden." What power belonged to the notaries in these rural courts 
may be gathered from the words of a Trier jurist (Nicolaus Hontheim, De arte 
Notariatus, cited by Marx, Geschichte d. Erzstifts Trier, ii., p. 86) of the be- 
ginning of the following century, who says that " dasei es denn vorgekommen, 
dass, wenn Angeklagte auf die Folter gebracht worden, die Richter im Wirths- 
hause bei Tische gesessen batten, wahrend Der, welcher den Schreiber machen 
und das ProtokoU fuhren sollte, die Fragen an den Angeklagten gestellt, die 
Folter gesteigert, mit Stacheln den Inquisiten gestochen, Streiche ihm versetzt, 
brennende Fackeln an ihn gehalten und den Scharf richter gemacht habe." 
The record, in Omsdorf's own handwriting, is inserted at the end of a collec- 
tion of the Scheffen-Weisheiten, or common-law maxims, of the villages within 
the jurisdiction of St. Maximin, made (doubtless in pursuance of the subordina- 
tion of the abbey by the imperial decision of 1570) by the hand of Wilhelm 
von Biedborgh, court clerk at Trier. The volume containing it was, when I first 
used it (in 1885), still the property of a village wife at Fell ; but it is now in 
the hands of an eminent professor (Dr. Reuss, of the theological seminary at 
Trier), to whose courtesy I owe the privilege of a re-examination. There is 
much in the trial of Eva of Kenn to mark it as the earliest in its series ; and 

1 97] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 1 1 

Of this occurrence there is no reason to suppose that the 
city court, a dozen miles away, had any official cognizance ; 
and it is interesting to note that in the new code for the 
government of the town the crime of witchcraft is not so 
much as mentioned.' The prime source of the epidemics 
of witch-persecution was, however, not forgotten : the tor- 
ture was amply provided for.* And it was not long before 
a chance for its use presented itself. 

Yet not under the administration of Archbishop Jacob 
III.; that prelate passed away in 1581. Again it was a 
colleague and associate of Dietrich Flade who succeeded to 
the See — Johann von Schonenburg, Provost of the Cathe- 
dral and, since the reorganization of the city. Governor of 
Trier. Of noble birth, like all his brother canons at Trier, 
and, like most of them, not yet in priestly orders, Johann 
VII. was yet in person and in bearing the very type of the 
parish priest. His piety is lauded by all his biographers ; 
and no one who has studied for a moment his pinched face, 
as portrayed for us by the art of his contemporaries — the 
thin lips, the straight, sharp nose, the feeble beard straggling 
over lips and chin, the tense lines of cheek and brow, the 
soured expression — a face that bespeaks not more the sick 
man than the bigot — will doubt the truth of their verdict.* 

that the persecution at this time went little, if any, further, is rendered probable 
by the fact that no other witches than these are mentioned in the extant con- 
fessions of the later witches of the region. 

' Various other crimes are named. The code {^Reformatio senatus et 
ordinatio civitatis Trevirensis, 1580) may be foand in Hontheim, Hist. Trev. 
Dipl., iii. 

* I. e., it was provided that torture should be used, according to the provisions 
of the imperial code of Charles V. It ought, in justice, to be added that, 
while the Kursdchsische Kriminalordnung {1572) of Lutheran Saxony and 
the Kurpfdhisches Landrecht (1582) of the Calvinist Palatinate, with the 
lesser Protestant codes based upon them, went beyond the Carolina in making 
witchcraft, even without material injury, a capital crime when it involved 
dealings with the Devil, Catholic Trier, spite of clerical and Jesuit influences, 
was from first to last, as to witchcraft, content to abide by the Caroline code. 

* These traits are especially noticeable in the portrait of him which hangs in 
the great hall of the Electoral palace at Coblenz ; less so, in the face of the 
kneeling figure on his tomb in the cathedral at Trier, which, made after his 
death, I suspect to be much idealized. Somewhat more flattering, too, is a 

12 George L. Burr's Paper. [198 

Already past the meridian of life,' he was fast breaking 
beneath the painful diseases which were soon to make him 
a chronic invalid. His election to the Archbishopric he 
perhaps owed to his affection for that enthusiastic body of 
men which, at Trier as throughout Europe, in pulpit and 
confessional and professor's chair, had for twenty years past 
been turning the world upside down — the Jesuits. To them 
his predecessor had been devoted, and to them through- 
out his life Johann VII. turned, with a fondness chronicled 
alike by themselves and by their foes, and attested by a 
lavish generosity in strange contrast with the misery of his 

Who can wonder, then, that the first work of his reign 
was the rooting out of what was left of Protestantism at 
Trier? A few stubborn heretics were banished, the rest 
converted, at least nominally — their confessors could be 
trusted to complete the work. Then followed the banish- 
ment of the Jews from the whole Electorate. What re- 
mained but the extirpation of those subtlest servants of 
Satan — the witches ? 

In this third task another prelate was to have a more 
famous share than Johann himself. This was the Vice- 
Bishop (Weihbischof) of Trier, Peter Binsfeld. For long, 
since the Archbishop-Electors had become scarcely more 
than lay princes, the more purely ecclesiastical functions 

gold medal of him, "set. 62," in the museum of Trier. More like the Coblenz 
painting in expression are the engraving in Khevenhiller, Ad annales Ferdi- 
nandei, and that upon the map of his electorate in Quad's Fasciculus geographi- 
cus (Coin, 1608). 

' As to the date of his birth, authorities differ, varying from 1525 to 1531. 
The inscription on his monument makes him seventy-four at his death in 1599. 

' See Linden (in the Gesta Trev.) and 'BrovLVfcr passim ; also Reiffenberg, 
Hist. Soc, yesuad Rhenum Infer., i. Say the Jesuit Litterce annua of 1581 : 
"Joannes Schonebergh Praepositus, nostrae Societatis amantissimus, in de- 
mortui locum sulTectus est." Trier had long ceased to be the residence of the 
Electors ; and, as Johann's health failed, he withdrew more and more even 
from Coblenz and dwelt with his clerical household in remote castles or abbeys, 
such as Grimburg and Prlim. It is a strange and notable fact that the private 
physician of Johann, from his accession to the physician's death in 1591, was 
Heinrich Weyer, a son of Dr. Johann Weyer, the first great assailant of the 

199] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 13 

of their office and the general management of church affairs 
had fallen into the hands of the Vice-Bishop, whose dignity 
the Pope was wont to heighten by conferring on him a 
titular bishopric in partibus infidelium. Peter Binsfeld, 
Bishop of Azotus and Vice-Bishop of Trier, though born in 
the diocese,' had distinguished himself as a zealous pupil at 
the Jesuit college for his countrymen at Rome, where he 
had won the master's degree in theology, and had come 
back with a papal commendation to a position in the Elec- 
tor's gift. Having won himself favor by the relentless 
vigor with which he purged from heresy and insubordina- 
tion the historic abbey of Priim, he was in 1580 raised to 
the vice-bishopric. Active, disputatious, pedantic, a master 
of the scholastic logic of the day, as well as of a facile Latin 
style, and, as became his Jesuit training, devoted to the 
mediaeval dogmas of his church and to the order from which 
he had learned them, he became a pillar of the faith at Trier 
in every field of thought; and from his pen, in 1589, came 
that learned defence of the credibility of the witch-con- 
fessions which for a century played the part of a code to 
the witch-persecutors of Germany, Protestant as well as 

* Two seemingly contradictory accounts are given of his origin : one, that he 
was born *' ex spectata gente sub archidiocesi Treverica " (from the Luxemburg 
village of Bollendorf , say some) ; the other, that Abbot Johann VIII. of Himme- 
rode, " Petrum Binsfeldium, observata latentis ingenii indola, a stabulo et 
domesticis Himmerodii servitiis ad Musarum castra traduxit." Both stories may 
be found in the Metrop. Eccl. Trev. of Brouwer and Masen (i., p. 69; ii., 
p. 131). Dr. Kraus (in the Allg. deutsche Biog.) follows the latter ; but Hont- 
heim adopts the former, and Dr. Binsfeld, Gymnasial-Director at Coblenz, a 
descendant of the Bishop's brother, has told me that he has a genealogy of his 
family establishing the truth of this theory. 

* His Tractatus de confessionibus malejicorutn et sagarum, Trier, 1589, 
bearing on its title-page the significant motto : " Maleficos non patieris vivere." 
Revised and enlarged by the author, it was reprinted in 1591, with the addition 
of a commentary on the Roman law's chapter De maUficis et mathematicis. 
Again revised, the double work reappeared in 1596 ; and after the author's 
death it was reprinted in 1605, with his collected works in 1611, and finally in 
1623. Twice it was translated into German — at Trier in 1590, and at Munich 
in 1 591 — not to mention sundry works which are scarcely more than para- 
phrases of it. 

14 George L. Burrs Paper. [200 

Yet there is no reason to believe that in the beginning of 
the witch-trials at Trier either the Archbishop or his suf- 
fragan had any part. The election of Johann von Schonen- 
burg left his deputy, Dietrich Flade, for a time Acting 
Governor of the city. It was during his incumbency of this 
office as well as that of Judge that there took place what 
there is reason to believe the first trial for witchcraft at 
Trier.' Not from the side of Zell did the accusation come, 
but from Saarburg, a score of miles in the opposite direc- 
tion. In the summer of 1582 the hue and cry was there 
under full headway.* Witches had already been burned, 
and on June 7th an "extract" from the confession of one 
of these was officially forwarded to the court at Trier, 
accompanied by a letter from the magistrate at Saarburg to 
the authorities of the city.' It was a charge of complicity 
against one Braun Greth (Margarethe Braun ? *), a matron of 
Trier. After an interval of more than a month, devoted per- 
haps to the gathering of further evidence, Braun Greth was 
arrested and put on her trial. Under the torture the poor 
woman confessed to sad shortcomings, but persistently pro. 
tested her innocence of witchcraft. Again and again fresh 
evidence warranted fresh torture, and the trial dragged on 
through three whole months. But when, on the sixth ap- 
plication of the torture, nothing worse could be wrung from 
her than that she was indeed a poor sinner and had some- 
times eaten broth on a fast-day, her judges must have been 
satisfied. She had herself naively offered her tormentors to 

* We read, it is true, in the Jesuit Litterce annua of 1577, the significant 
sentence : " Nee veneficis ad suppliciura productis opera defuit." But this 
may easily have been at Saarburg ; for the activity of the fathers, as we shall 
have occasion to note, was by no means confined to the city. 

* A Saarburg woman, named Falcken Greth, had been accused by Eva of 
Kenn in 1572. But the persecution may have crept down the Saar from 

* The Saarburg magistrate. Dr. Quad von Landskron, was a man of birth 
and influence, later (1588-1600) Cathedral Provost and Chor-Bischof at Trier, 
where we shall meet him soon. He was a nephew of Archbishop Johann VI. 
and uterine brother of Lothar von Mettemich, who was to succeed Johann VII. 
in 1599 (Brouwer and Masen, Metrop. Eccl. Trev., i., 157). 

* It is, of course, doubtful whether this ought to be taken as a surname. 

20 1 ] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 15 

go into exile and never again — German fortitude could no 
further go — to lie upon a feather-bed ; and, as she does not 
reappear in later records, it is highly probable that her 
acquittal was followed by her banishment. Judge Flade 
had, as the law required, personally conducted her examina- 
tions ; and, though there is little in the record to suggest con- 
scientious scruples on his part, the stout denials of Braun 
Greth in the face of the most damning evidence may well 
have set him thinking.' Of no other witch-trial under his 
presidency have the minutes come down to us, and for more 
than three years we hear of no other case at Trier itself. 

Meanwhile through all the country-side the superstition 
grew apace. There was enough to make the peasant think 
the weather bewitched. During the whole eighteen years 
of Johann's reign there were only two tolerable harvests. 
To add to the distress, troopers from the seething religious 
war in the neighboring Netherlands came ravaging over the 
border, the Spaniards not less than their Protestant foes. 
The lower Rhine was in the hands of the Dutch, who cut 
off the supplies which might have found their way up the 
river, and especially the fish so necessary to the long and 
frequent fasts of a Catholic land. Robbers, too, beset all 
the highways and only laughed at the feeble police of the 
prince whom they nicknamed '* Johann the Sickly." Prayers 
and processions seemed of no avail. In vain did the 

' The exceedingly interesting minutes of the trial of Braun Greth — all, save 
the Saarburg extract, in the crabbed autograph of the court clerk, Wilhelm 
von Bitburg (or " Wilhelm von Biedborgh," as he always writes his own name) 
— are still preserved at Trier (in codex 1583 of the Stadt-Bibliothek). They 
break off at the close of her sixth examination, and are perhaps incomplete. 
There is nowhere in them intimation of earlier trials at Trier, and there is 
much to suggest the court's want of practice in such cases. We hear, in the 
proceedings against Braun Greth, of the trial and confession of a Margaret of 
Lenningen, who had certainly been at one time a woman of Trier ; but, had 
she been tried at Trier, it is unintelligible that she was not confronted with 
Greth, whom she had accused. It is more likely that her case belonged to 
one of the rural jurisdictions, or perhaps to Lenningen itself, a Luxemburg 
village. That Greth's daughter, though also accused by the Saarburg witch, 
was not indicted, is clear from the minutes of her mother's trial ; and there is 
no ground for supposing that the persecution went further at Trier. 

1 6 George L. Burrs Paper, [202 

Archbishop in the spring of 1585 display for three days at 
Trier to his despairing subjects the Holy Coat of Christ : 
the mice damaged the grain-fields, the rain nearly ruined 
the vintage, the Rhine was again blockaded. What wonder 
that men were bitter against those to whose malignity all 
this was thought to be due ? * 

And, whatever may have been the doubts as to witch- 
craft of the leading magistrate at Trier, he had now a col- 
league who was troubled by none. The vacant governorship 
had been filled by the appointment of the Freiherr Johann 
Zandt von Merl. Born of an ancient noble family of the 
Electorate, the new incumbent was hereditary bailiff of Zell, 
and held, beside his governorship, the position, half judicial, 
half administrative, of Amtmann of the two widely sundered 
jurisdictions of Pfalzel and Grimburg." 

It was into this remote district of Grimburg, lying on the 
farther slopes of the Hochwald, and adjoining the juris- 
diction of Saarburg, that the witch-persecution seems next 
to have found its way. 

" Often," write the Jesuits of Trier in their report for 1585,' 
" have our priests been summoned to the witches, whose 

' The best account of the hardships of this time is that of Mechtel (in his 
Chronicon Limburgense, printed in Hontheim's Prodromus — the original is 
at Trier), a native of Pfalzel, who, though writing on the Lahn, had heart 
and pen for all that concerned his home. With him Linden and Brouwer 
fuUy concur. 

* As "Johann Zandt von Merl, Erbvogt [zu Zell] im Hamme, churfOrst- 
licher Stadthalter zu Trier, Rath und Amtmann zu Pfalzel und Grimburg," 
he appears in the official documents of the time. Such grouping of jurisdictions 
was common. 1584 was perhaps the year of his appointment to all three ; for 
Mechtel (Chron. Limburg., s. a. 1395) speaks of him as "anno Domini 1585. 
nobilis Joannes Zandt i Merl, satrapa in Palatiolo noviter constitutus," and 
Zandt himself said in 1591 to Nicolas Fiedler (I quote from the MS. of his 
trial) " Ir mir jetzt im achten jahr, dass ich im dienst der Statthaltereyen, 
vleissigh beigestandenn." 

' These Litterce annua, sent up yearly from each Jesuit college to the 
Provincial, were later (sometimes after an interval of several years) gathered 
up into volumes and printed for circulation in the order. Dealing mainly with 
the pastoral and missionary activity of the society and abounding in anecdote, 
they are full of interest for the history of the civilization of their time. It is 
from these that the great Jesuit advocate of witch-persecution, Delrio, largely 

203] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. ly 

number here is very great, and have attended them even to 
the place of punishment ; and through God's goodness it 
has been brought about that with great grief for their sins 
they have died piously even amid the torments of the 
flames." And they add an anecdote which not only suggests 
the whereabouts of their activity, but for him who will read 
between the lines has a more direct bearing upon our story. 
" Among these witches," goes on the report, " there was one 
who had beguiled by her arts a boy of eight, and was wont 
to take him to the place where at night they gave themselves 
up to their devilish doings, in order that while they danced 
together he might beat the drum ; and he was often present 
when they were plotting witchcraft against others. This 
boy the Archbishop ordered to be brought to Trier, that he 
might be taught his catechism by us (for he was completely 
ignorant of Christian teaching, not even knowing the Lord's 
prayer). And while our priest was testing his mind in various 
ways, he noticed that the cord of the sacred waxen image 
of Agnus Dei which he had hung about the boy's neck had 
been twisted and tied with knots as if broken. Asking the 
reason, he learned that the Devil had visited the boy in the 
night, had scolded him sharply for letting himself be so 
easily won over, and had bid him fling away the thing hang- 
ing on his neck, unless he wished to be flogged. The 
frightened boy had done his bidding, and of a sudden had 
been snatched away to the walls of the city. There he 

drew the modern instances in which his book is so rich. Even in their printed 
form, however, the Littcrcz are excessively rare ; and they were never printed 
at all until 1581. But there is at Trier in manuscript (codex 1619 of the Stadt- 
Bibliothek) a precious collection of the originals for the Jesuit province of the 
Rhine : the Annua Provincics Rheni for nearly all the years from 1573 to 1590. 
That they were the copies actually received by the Provincial at Mainz is clear 
from the fact that, from 1573 to 1583, they are signed in autograph by him or 
by his deputy. For those of the missing years (1575, 1578, 1579, 1581) I have 
sought in vain, not only at Trier, but at Mainz, Darmstadt, Wtirzburg, and 
elsewhere. A comparison of these manuscript Littera with the printed forms 
of such as were published shows great variation, but only in diction and style — 
clearly the work of an editor. It is from the manuscript Littera, therefore, as 
nearer than the printed ones to the events they record, that I translate the 
passages so important to the present study. 

1 8 George L. Burrs Paper. [204 

found a black goat, and, mounting it, was borne in briefest 
space to the wonted spot of the vile sport of the witches ; 
and, when all was at length over, was brought back to the 
palace. Many things the boy revealed which the confessions 
of witches have since proved true. So the Governor of the 
city, in the name and by the authority of the Archbishop, 
asked that the boy might be taken into our school until he 
should be properly instructed in religion, so that afterward, 
living at the palace, but attending the sacraments with us, he 
might be safe from the wiles of demons ; and this was done." 

Now, the Governor of Trier who showed such solicitude 
for the boy's welfare was Johann Zandt von Merl, Amtmann 
of Grimburg; and when, three years later, this same magnate 
was asked if any of the witches at Grimburg had testi- 
fied against Dietrich Flade, he remembered that a lad, 
Jeckell of Reinsfeld, who had been led astray by the 
witches, and who had been brought to Trier and given over 
to the Jesuit fathers, had been privately examined at the 
palace by himself and the Landhofmeister, and had confessed 
that, on his night-excursion from Trier to the witch-sabbath, 
he had seen there " certain from Trier." * 

The year 1586 saw no decline of the persecution. In the 
spring of that year one witch at least was tried and con- 
demned at Trier itself.' Pestilence followed famine, and 

* Flade trial, p. 128. The identity of Jeckell of Reinsfeld with the boy 
of the Jesuit story would seem unquestionable, were it not for a startling 
passage in the Litterce for 1587. There, following the tale of Matthias of 
Weisskirch (see pp. 'i\-'ii^ below), we read: "Alter juvenis simili Sathange 
fraude delusus ante triennium nostris traditus, solemn! Ecclesiae ritu fuerat 
liberatus ; sed ad vomitum reversus, iterum ab errore resiliit, at paulo post 
miserandum in modum a sagis agitatus decessit." Had Johann Zandt, then, 
found it necessary to put his boy-accomplice out of existence ? But, in 1588, 
he testified of Jeckell of Reinsfeld that " der jungh ist noch im leben zu 
Reinssfelt bei seinenn eltem." It is to be noted, however, that he was never 
produced, though the Elector himself (Flade trial, p. 34) requested that he be 
brought and confronted with Flade. The Landhofmeister here mentioned 
must have been that Anton Waldpot von Bassenheim who in 1589 was shot 
down by robbers. A decade later, at the accession of Archbishop Lothar, we 
find Johann Zandt himself filling that high post. 

' One " Barbell von Nittell weyssgerberss zu Trier, sogefangen," is accused 
in May, 1586, by a witch of Paschel, in the jurisdiction of Saarburg, and is 

205] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 19 

everywhere men demanded more summary vengeance on 
the servants of Satan. " In this year, and those next follow- 
ing," writes an eye-witness, the Jesuit Brouwer, " feminine 
duplicity mocked the public distress by witchcraft ; and 
Satan himself trumped up here another Circe, as it were, 
to wreak cruel woes on mortals, to bewitch to death the 
cattle, to ruin the harvests, and to stir up tempests by her 
arts. And what carried the infamy of the horrible thing to 
the uttermost, was that both rich and poor, of every rank, 
age, and sex, sought a share in the accursed crime." ' 

evidently the same one described two months earlier, by one of an adjoining 
village, as "Die itzunder zu Trier gefangen ist, sey in weissgerberss." (St. 
Maximin witch-register : see note on page 20.) Flade himself, too, mentions 
"die hingerichtete Barbara," who had a daughter, a " weissgerbers," dwelling 
in the Neue-Gasse (Flade trial, p, 202). That she and only she is named by 
all three certainly suggests that her case was a solitary one ; and from even 
these mere mentions it is evident that her trial was a more protracted one than 
those of the rural courts. 

* Brouwer, Annates 7V^z/«V^«j«, lib. xxii. Christoph Brouwer (or Browerus, 
as he latinized his Dutch name), born in 1559, entered the Jesuit order at 
Coin in 1580, and spent some years at Fulda, where he rose to the post of 
Rector, before he came to Trier to take up, at the suggestion of the Elector 
Johann, that history of the archdiocese which was to be the great work of his 
life. If, as his continuator and fellow-Jesuit Masen (Masenius) tells us, he had 
at his death in 1617 been at work upon it for thirty years, he must have arrived 
in Trier about 1587. In 1593 we find him Dean of the " Facultas Artium " 
of the university there. That Brouwer was a firm believer in witchcraft and 
in the persecution is clear enough from his pages. As, however, this closing 
portion of Brouwer's book was for many years suppressed by the Electoral 
censors, and when suffered to be printed, in 1670, had undergone the changes 
and additions of Masen, it might fairly be asked whether the important 
passages I have to cite from him on this subject may not have been inserted or 
amended by his editor. Brouwer's autograph of the original, at Trier, includes 
only the first eleven books, but a manuscript by another hand, which completes 
this down to 1599 (where Brouwer closed his work), shows these passages just 
as they were afterward printed ; and there are at Bonn documents which leave 
no doubt as to their genuineness. There, in the University Library, is a thin 
folio containing what seems to be a part of a report of the censors. Its first 
two leaves are wanting, but its twenty-first page bears the caption: '■^ Index 
eorum qu<E in Annalibus Trevirensibus Archiepiscopis, Pralatis, Religiosis^ 
Clero Diacesi minime laudabilia censentur ex libra decimo nono et retiquis 
necdum impressis." Now, among these "minime laudabUia" (which consist 
mainly of too free utterances regarding sundry dignitaries and religious com- 
munities of the province) are specified every one of the passages on witchcraft — 


George L. Burrs Paper. [206 

But the prestige of Dietrich Flade suffered as yet no 
abatement. He was already Dean of the juristic faculty at 
Trier, and in this year, 1586, he was elected to the Rector- 
ship of the university — the only layman to hold that posi- 
tion in its whole history, from its reorganization in 1562 to 
its closure in the eighteenth century. ' His wealth was pro- 
verbial. '* By his civic zeal, and by his proved loyalty to 
his sovereigns," writes Brouwer, the Jesuit, "he had earned 
the judge's position in the city; learned both in public and . 
in private law, greatly valued for his counsels, he had won 
favor, and fame as well, among the princes of the Empire, 
and had gathered to himself riches." " 

Another autumn and still no harvest. A plague of cater- 
pillars destroyed the vegetables in the gardens. The winter 
came early, and a long " cold snap " kept the mills from 
grinding. "God graciously turn away his wrath!" ex- 
claims the chronicler. But the spring of 1587 crept in late 
and slowly. Men died of hunger. Much rain delayed the 
crops. The end of the world, said some, will come in 1588.' 

Down the Saar and the Moselle into the jurisdictions just 
outside the city walls, down the peaceful valley of the Ruwer 
into the broad domain of St. Maximin, crept the persecu- 
tion. * Would the Elector never take the matter more 
sternly in hand ? 

the account of the persecution, of the attempt to bewitch the Elector, of the 
fate of Flade, of the recantation of Loos. That, spite of this censure, they 
were printed, we doubtless owe to the credulity of Masen ; but he was not their 

' As to Flade's Deanship, see Hontheim, ii., p. 545, and Neller's Conatus 
exegeticus (A&%ctCo&A below, p. 36, note). Of the Rectors two manuscript lists are 
preserved at Trier ; and the whole line is printed by Hontheim at the end of 
his Hist. Trev. Dipl., ii. 

* Brouwer, Ann. Trev., lib. xxii. 

* Mechtel, as above. 

* That we can trace this step by step, from village to village, we owe to one 
of the most remarkable relics of the witch persecution ; the manuscript which 
I have called the St. Maximin witch-register. It is a careful record of all those 
accused of witchcraft by the witches tried in the jurisdiction of St. Maximin 
from 1587 to 1594, with the addition of all denunciations of St. Maximin 
witches by those on trial in neighboring jurisdictions (to which a lively interest 
in the affairs of the city led the compiler to include also all accusations of 

207] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 21 

Of a sudden — it was in 1587 — it was whispered among the 
members of his household that an attempt had been made 
to bewitch the Elector himself. A boy present at the 
witch-sabbath when the plot was made, had confessed the 
deed, naming the very night when its execution had been 
attempted. The prelate had become vulnerable by care- 
lessly leaving off at night a waxen Agnus Dei which he was 
wont to wear about his neck ; and, though the attempt had 
not proved fatal. His Grace had declared that on awaking 
he had found himself so ill that for several days he was not 
free from the pain. * Such was the scant account permitted 
to the historian ; but, fortunately for the story of Dietrich 
Flade, the Jesuit fathers at Trier thought a more detailed 
narrative of the occurrence due to their superior. " Through 
the cunning of the enemy of mankind," say they, "after 

dwellers in Trier). It includes thus the depositions of 306 distinct prisoners 
(Miiller, not noting that two are repeated, counted 308, which his printer made 
368 — a blunder borrowed by a host of later writers), of whom, however, only 
about 270 belong to St. Maximin itself. The number of denunciations is a 
little over six thousand ; but, as most of the names recur again and again, the 
real number of the denounced is not more than a fourth or a fifth of that. The 
authorship of the volume has been ascribed to Claudius Musiel, because its last 
pages bear a superscription stating that they deal with the period when he was 
Amtmann of the jurisdiction ; but, for reasons which I will not here detail, I 
believe its main author and user to have been Peter Omsdorf. That the book 
was actually in use as a source of accusations admits of easy proof. From it 
the testimony against Flade was to be largely drawn. The manuscript (a small 
quarto of some 600 pages) is now in the Stadt-Bibliothek at Trier. It is the 
main subject of Miiller's Kleiner Beitrag zur Geschichte des Hexenwesens men- 
tioned above (p. 9, note). Its earliest depositions are of 1586, and belong to 
Saarburg villages adjoining those of St. Maximin. 

' So Brouwer tells the story (Ann. Trev., lib. xxii.). 

' LittercB annuce (MS.), 1587. It seems to me best to give here the original 
of this important passage: " Ejusdem hostis versutia et praestigiis deceptus 
rusticus, sed perspicacis ingenii Adolescens, annorum 15, ad locum ubi conven- 
tus suos habent sagse, et nefarios choros, commessationes aliaque scelera perpe- 
trant, aliquoties accesserat ; nondum tamen Deo ac Deiparae virgini (quod ritu 
illorum prasscribitur) renuncians, diabolicis mysteriis erat initiatus : felis tamen 
cerebro in cibum sumpto, proprii cerebri (luna potissimum decrescente) 
magnam imbecillitatem contraxerat. Hanc tandem civitatem, quam prius 
viderat nunquam ingressus (quod non tam casu factum videtur, quam dsemonis 
astu, qui per hunc suos cultores in discrimen adductos volebat) a Praefecto cap- 
tus in Principis Palatium adducitur, ut ibidem in abdito loco servatus, melius 

22 George L. Burrs Paper. [208 

speaking as usual of the great number of the detected 
witches, " was also misled a certain youth of fifteen years — 
a rustic, but keen of wit — who went several times to the 
places where the witches have their meetings and perpetrate 
their horrid dances, their feasts, and the rest of their crimes. 
He had not, indeed, yet renounced God and the virgin 
Mother of God (as is prescribed by their ritual), and been 
initiated into the diaboHc mysteries ; but, having taken a 
cat's brain at the feast, he contracted (especially as it was in 
the wane of the moon) a great imbecility of his own brain. 
He was at length arrested by the Governor and brought to 
this city, which he had before seen but had never entered (a 
thing seemingly due less to accident than to the artfulness 
of the Devil, who wished his followers to be through him 
brought into danger), and quartered in the Electoral palace, 
in order that, being kept in a secluded place, he might the 

a nostris erudiretur, et malam illam servitutem effugeret : sed cum a sagis et 
daemone noctu vexaretur, et crudeliter etiam verberaretur, cerea quoque sacrati 
agni effigies, quae collo fuerat appensa, divelleretur, multisque minis ad propo- 
situm retinendum soUicitaretur ; ad Collegium nostrum Reverendissimi Ar- 
chiepiscopi jussu adductus, ne ibi quidem hac importuna divexatione fuit im- 
munis, donee cubiculum in quo erat, exorcismis lustraretur, et benedictionibus 
ecclesise ab omni dsemonis infestatione vindicaretur. Post cum in templo 
nostro ritu Catholico exorcisatur, constanter oculos in vitream fenestram altari 
proximam defigebat : rogatus Ecquid videret ? dissimulavit, quod postea 
fassus est, se suum dominum (singulis enim maleficis hujusraodi peculiaris 
praeest daemon quem dominum nuncupant) Sambuco pone fenestram illam insi- 
dentem vidisse, per fenestrae foramen sibi minitantem si a fcedere secum inito 
resiliret. Narrabat ille, dum a quaesitore (quod postea ipsi Reverendissimo 
fassus fuit) examinatur, inter eos, quos indicio suo prodebat, unum fuisse, qui 
in conventu gloriatus fuerat, se quadam nocte Archiepiscopo, cui in magni mo- 
menti officio minister erat, dormienti potionem ingessisse, aditu a Sua Cels. 
tunc patefacto, quod praeter morem Agnum Dei, quem de collo gestat, in 
mensa cubitum concedens, deposuisset. Sed quia materiae non satis erat, hac 
vice mortem evasurum. Nee falsa fuit vel dubia narratio. Experrectus 
namque Reverendissimus, licet rei ignarus, talem invaletudinem sensit ; ut ad 
aliquot dies de vita periclitaretur, quousque Medicus salutari poculo venenum 
malum expulit. Hujus generis alia loquenti, cum non facile fides haberetur, 
conversus ad urbis praefectum, Quin et tuae, inquit, vitae bis insidiatae sunt, sed 
quod tecum ferre soles vasculum cui duae sunt imagines insculptae, et nescio 
quid sacrati (Agnum Dei significabat) continet, et ad lectum tuum appendere 
consuevisti, hoc illis impedimento fuit, quo minus, quod studebant, perficere 
potuerint. Quae signa vera esse Praefectus ipse affirmabat." 

209] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 23 

better be taught by our priests and escape his wretched bon- 
dage. But, when he was tormented at night by the witches 
and the Devil, and even cruelly beaten, and when the waxen 
figure of consecrated Agnus Dei, which had been hung about 
his neck, was torn off, and he was urged with many threats 
to go on with what he had begun, then by order of the 
Archbishop he was brought to our college. And not even 
there was he safe from this persistent annoyance, until the 
bedchamber in which he was had been purged by exorcisms, 
and freed from all molestation of the Devil by the benedic- 
tions of the Church. Later, when he was exorcised in our 
sanctuary according to the Catholic ritual, he kept his eyes 
constantly fixed on the window nearest the altar; and when 
asked, ' What are you looking at ? ' he concealed what 
afterward he confessed — that he saw his master Sambuco 
(for in this way is given charge of each witch a special 
demon whom the witches call master) sitting behind that 
window and threatening him through the window-slit if he 
should break the pact he had made with himself. When 
questioned by the examiner, the boy narrated (what after- 
ward he confessed to the Archbishop himself) that, among 
those whom he was denouncing by his testimony, was one 
who had boasted at the witch-sabbath, that on a certain 
night he had administered to the sleeping Archbishop, in 
whose service he held an office of great importance, a deadly 
potion, His Grace being accessible, because contrary to his 
habit he had on going to bed laid on the table the amulet of 
sacred wax which he wore about his neck ; but that, there 
being not enough of the drug, the Elector would this time 
escape death. Nor was the story false or doubtful ; for the 
Archbishop, on awaking, although ignorant of the matter, 
felt himself so ill that for several days his life was in danger, 
until his physician expelled the dire poison by a health- 
giving draught. And, when, as the lad went on to tell 
other things of this sort, it was not easy to put faith in what 
he said, he turned to the Governor of the city : ' Nay, your 
life too,' he said, ' has been twice plotted against ; but the 
little locket you wear, which has two engraved figures cut in 

24 George L. Burr's Paper. [210 

it, and holds something consecrated (he meant Agnus Dei), 
and which you have been wont to hang on your bed, was a 
hindrance to them, so that they could not carry out what 
they planned.' And the Governor himself admitted the 
truth of these statements." 

The tale needs no commentary. To us it is full of 
another meaning than that it bore to the robuster faith 
of the sixteenth century. Something less than magic can 
explain the boy's miraculous knowledge of the Elector's 
illness and of the Governor's private devotions. The offi- 
cial thus accused of witchcraft was Dietrich Flade. " Inas- 
much," say the records of his trial,* " as a young boy named 
Matthias, born at Weisskirch, led by others into witch- 
craft, was accused thereof by other executed persons, and 
was alleged also to have been present at the witch-sabbath, 
he was, by order of the Governor of Trier, brought to this 
city in custody ; and, being examined, did at once, without 
torture, freely confess that he had through the seduction of 
the Devil several times been present at the sabbath, — that 
there he had seen a great number of richly-clad people, and 
among the rest two grandees in showy array. Now these, 
being described by him as to the clothing they then wore 
and their bodily figure, correspond entirely with Dr. Flade 
and another, both in their physical proportions and in all 
other details ; and the aforesaid description was afterward 
confirmed by the fact that, when once the lad followed 
with others to see a criminal flogged out of the city, and 
Dr. Flade fell under his eyes, he at once recognized him, 
and afterward openly declared that he had seen the 
Meier' of Trier (meaning Dr. Flade, the Judge) at the 
witch-sabbath, and had met him at the expulsion of the 

' Flade trial, pp. 155-157. Weisskirch, like Reinsfeld, was a village in the 
jurisdiction of Grimburg. My translation tries to follow the awkward syntax 
of the original. What stress the Elector himself laid upon this testimony may 
be seen in his letter to the theological faculty (pp. 36-38, below). 

' The Meiers, or managers of the Electoral farms, the great men of the 
country villages, played a large part in the witch-persecution, both as accusers 
and as victims. 

21 1] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 25 

The plot that should cost Dietrich Flade his life was well 
begun. The all-powerful Jesuit fathers were convinced, the 
Elector himself terrified. All was now ripe for a formal 
denunciation which should catch the ear of the courts. 
This came from the other jurisdiction of Johann Zandt, 
from Pfalzel. In the summer of 1587 the persecution was 
there fully under way,' On the 8th of July was burned a 
witch, known as " Maria, the old Meieress," from the neigh- 
boring village of Ehrang, She had testified, and without 
torture, that Dr. Dietrich Flade, whom she knew well, had 
several times been at the witch-sabbath. And, though the 
Amtmann himself had thereupon examined the old Maria 
privately, and exhorted her to do nobody a wrong, she had 
remained firm as to Dr. Flade till her death. Nay, when 
brought before the open court for her sentence, and after- 
wards at the stake before all the crowd, she would have kept 
shouting out his name if they had not stopped her. To this 
all the rural assessors of the court later bore witness,' 

The rest was easy. No witch, casting about in the torture 
for some name on which to fasten the accusation her inquisi- 
tors relentlessly demanded, was likely to forget that Maria 
of Ehrang had accused the well-known judge of Trier, The 
poor witches of the country-side, jealous of the greater ex- 
emption of their more prosperous city neighbors, had long 
insisted that there were town-folk too at the witch-sabbath 
but had hesitated to mention names. Here was a name for 

' " In oppidulo prope Treveros Pfaltz dicto," say the Annals of Neuss for 
the year 1587, " archiepiscopus cremari jussit 118 sagas, duosque viros, eo 
quod confiterentur se suis incantationibus frigus ad Junium usque commovisse : 
et cum essent igni proximiores, fatebantur, si adhuc tres supervixissent dies ante 
suam captivitatem, acutius adeo commoturas fuisse frigus, ut ne viridis apparu- 
isset uspiam ramus : ita ut et vinese agerque et silvse hoc anno steriles perman- 
sissent." {Ann. N'ovesienses, in Martene and Durand, Ampl. ColUctio, iv., 

* Flade trial, pp. 27, 28, 49, 116-118. Her life, of course, was already for- 
feit before this accusation was made. What was her reward for making it, it 
is not hard to guess : it lay in the power of Johann von Zandt, as Amtmann, 
to bum her alive or mercifully to suffer her first to be strangled. This it was, 
this and fear of a renewal of the torture, which kept many men and women 
" firm till death " in their confessions. 

26 George L. Burrs Paper. [2 1 2 

them, and a rich man's withal. A month had not passed 
before another on trial at Pfalzel — " Loch Hans," of Schweich 
— repeated the accusation of Maria of Ehrang.* 

Johann Zandt was now ready for the next step. " Inas- 
much," he said two years later to his colleagues at Trier, 
" as Dr. Dietrich Flade was a man of ability, learning, and 
experience, who had long been an Electoral Councillor, was 
Judge at Trier, and had been Acting Governor of the city, 
had done the Electorate great service and had discharged 
many commissions, had served princes and counts, men 
of noble birth and of ignoble," he would gladly have seen 
him clear himself of the charges thus growing rife against 
him. He had himself spoken to Dr. Flade's friends and 
acquaintances of the matter ; but he noticed that none 
of them was willing to mention it to the accused. There- 
fore, out of the goodness of his heart, he resolved at last 
himself to tell Dr. Flade. It was in August of 1587. He 
invited the magistrate into his garden and told him of the 
charges made by Loch Hans. Flade thanked him, and 
asked that the man be more closely questioned." 

But the Judge was too old a lawyer to rest his case with 
that. It was " general-reckoning day " at Trier ; and he 
immediately drew up a petition to the Elector setting forth 
his innocence, and begging to be allowed to clear himself 
legally before the Vice-Bishop, the Governor, the Official, or 
such commission as the Elector might appoint, and for- 
warded it by three of his fellow-jurists as they returned 
down the river. Nor did he stop with this. At the first 
opportunity he went himself to the Elector at Coblenz, and 
there, supported by a considerable number of his friends, 
defended himself in detail before the commission appointed 
to hear him.* 

Meanwhile Loch Hans had clung to his accusation and 
been duly burned * ; and the Governor had received instruc- 

' Flade trial, pp. ii8, 1 19. ' Flade trial, p. 62. 

' Flade trial, pp. 41, 42, 45, 46. His message-bearers were " Johan Beyer der 
alt, Johan Beyer der jungh Doctor, unnd Gabriell Merli." 

* From the Krdmer-Haus at Trier Dr. Flade himself watched the Governor 
ride away toward Pfalzel to his execution. Flade trial, p. iig. 

213] 1^^ P^t^ of Dietrich Flade. 2/ 

tions from court that, if there should be further testimony 
of the sort, Flade should be told the names of his accusers.' 
There was need of no long waiting. The rumor of his guilt 
was all abroad, and not only at Pfalzel but in the neighbor- 
ing jurisdictions of St. Maximin and St. PauHn witches in 
abundance named him in their confessions ; but it was not 
until the following spring that one was found who suited 
the purpose of the Governor. 

In the meantime the foes of the unhappy magistrate were 
not idle. On October 3, 1587, the Elector addressed to his 
lay court at Trier an edict of censure well calculated to un- 
dermine the prestige of its president in the eyes of the 
world. "Forasmuch," said that document,* "as for some 
time past in the administration of justice all sorts of abuses 
have been noticed," His Grace had been investigating the 
matter and would presently issue a revised code of proce- 
dure for the court. The only complaint explicitly made was 
that of tardiness of justice ; and for the remedy of this was 
prescribed greater promptness at the sessions, a less hesita- 
ting execution of the sentences of the ecclesiastical court, 
and a more energetic enforcement of the lay court's own de- 
cisions in civil matters. But far more serious were the sus- 
picions implied by the further requirements that hereafter 
" all money, silverware, or the like, sequestrated by the 
court, shall be deposited in the chest wherein the seal is 
kept, and duplicate keys of it given to the Judge and to two 
Assessors, no one of whom may open it alone, — that the 
Judge shall forthwith deposit in the chest all sequestrated 
money now in his hands, — and that a special strong-room 
shall be prepared for the custody of all property held in 
pledge." And darker still is the insinuation, when at the 
end " His Electoral Grace herewith in all graciousness cau- 
tions the Judge and Assessors that they keep before their 

' Flade trial, p. 63. 

' A contemporary copy of it is in codex 1393 of the Stadt-Bibliothek at 
Trier. The volume of which it forms a part belonged to the " Churflirst- 
lich Weltliches Hochgericht zu Trier," itself, and seems never to have fallen 
under Hontheim's eye. A part of the censure edict is printed by Wyttenbach 
and Miiller in the additamenta to their Gesta Trev., iii. 

28 George L. Burr s Paper. [214 

eyes sacred Justice, and suffer themselves not, through gifts 
or any other of the means which sometimes sway a judge's 
mind and give rise to partiality, to be drawn aside there- 
from." Was Dietrich Flade, then, so lately honored by all, 
a peculator and a corrupt judge? Or was this an attempt to 
blacken the fame of a man who must at all hazards be 
destroyed ? 

The Governor was at last ready with his witness. In 
April of 1588 Margarethe of Euren, on trial at Pfalzel, testi- 
fied that Dr. Flade had come to the witch-sabbath in a 
golden wagon. There he had urged the destruction of all 
the crops, but the poor had opposed him and she herself had 
protested, whereupon he had struck her with a stick, saying 
that they of Trier had enough yet ; and when in despair she 
had uttered the name of God, the whole assembly had in- 
stantaneously vanished. He and his followers had once 
brought on a terrible hail-storm, which had killed forty-six 
cows at Pfalzel, by standing in the Biewer brook and pour- 
ing water over their heads in the name of a thousand devils ; 
and he had wished to overturn both the Pfalzel and the 
Euren woods, so that no more stakes could be made for the 
burning of witches. He had also created the snails which 
had injured the crops — how, he could himself tell if asked. 
He had helped dig up from the churchyard at Euren a four 
weeks' child, whose heart had been taken out, baked in a 
fritter, and shared among the witches, in order to make it 
impossible for them to confess their witchcraft. She herself 
was indeed confessing ; but she had eaten only a little. All 
this and more with the most gratifying exactitude.' 

Again the Judge was summoned to an interview in the 
Governor's garden. He was permitted to send three friends 
— his kinsman, the Dean at Pfalzel (Peter Homphaeus), his 
confessor (and hers), the Jesuit Lucas Ellentz, and his col- 
league, the Assessor Maximin Pergener — to examine the 
witch in his behalf. But, in spite of their efforts, she was 
firm to her death. One of them reported to Flade that " it 
seemed as if the Devil spoke out of her." " 

' Flade trial, pp. 123-127. ' Flade trial, pp. 44, 45, 63. 

2 1 5] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 29 

Such was the evidence, born of the torture, on which in 
the witchcraft days men and women were done to death. 
In the following month another Pfalzel witch confirmed the 
testimony about the snails.' The case of Flade was desper- 
ate indeed. 

The old man's misfortunes had not come single. Death 
had stripped him of family and friends: his wife, his brother, 
his influential brother-in-law, his sister, his son, all were gone.* 
Among those still bound to him, however, was one colleague 
of some weight — Christoph Fath, a prot6g6 of his brother 
Franz at Speyer, who, through the good offices of Dietrich 
Flade himself, had become an Assessor of his own court at 
Trier, and had received in marriage one of his kinswomen. 
Shrewd but cruel was it when to Christoph Fath, on July 4, 
1588, was sent the commission to investigate and report the 
evidence of witchcraft against Dr. Flade. If it were an in- 
stinct of fairness that suggested the choice, it was certainly 
none that, on an enclosed slip, named as his associate in the 
investigation the terrible notary, Peter Omsdorf.* The dis- 

' Flade trial, p. 152. 

^ Flade trial, pp. 38, 78, 190. His household seems at this time to have 
consisted, beside himself, of only his three wards, Johann, Franz, and Maria 
Homphaeus, probably the orphans of his brother-in-law Christoph. 

' Flade trial, p. 85. If what has been already told of Omsdorf does not 
justify this epithet, let me add but one bit of testimony. After his death Scho 
Apollonia, of Kirsch, one of the few witches who escaped his clutches, testi- 
fied, among other things, that, as she was hanging in the torture at Zell, she 
saw Meyer Huprecht, of Schweich (one of the accusers of Clasen Adam, 
Schultheiss at Schweich, and of his wife Apollonia), slip a piece of gold into 
Omsdorf's hand ; that Omsdorf questioned her as to various people by name, 
including some at Trier, asking her whether she had seen them too at the 
witch-sabbath (" Er Ombsdorff habt nitt allein Roders Adamen, sonder auch 
andere mehr anderstwo, auch binnen Trier, namhafift gemacht, und sie ge- 
fragt, Ob sie dieselbige auch auff Hetzerather Heyden ahn iren dantz ge- 
sehen ? "); and that, angered, he had himself seized the executioner's staff and 
prodded her with it in the breast, so that the blood flowed. (See the fragments 
of the case of Clasen Adam and his wife, in codex 1534 of the Trier Stadt- 
Bibliothek.) Besides being notary of the ecclesiastical court at Trier, Oms- 
dorf was the regular notary at the court of St. Maximin, and we shall meet him 
officiating in that capacity also at Pfalzel and at St. Matthias. Most of the 
evidence against Flade had thus been taken down, if not inspired by him ; and 
we find him constantly active in the later persecution. He was still busy at it 

30 George L, Burr s Paper. [216 

mayed Assessor at once returned a long and humble petition 
to be excused from the ungrateful task, pleading his intimate 
relations with the family, his great and repeated obligations 
to the accused, their kinship, and adding that within the last 
few weeks Dietrich Flade had stood godfather to his child. 
But the Elector sent an immediate and peremptory refusal ; 
and poor Fath could only insist on filing his letter of protest 
among the papers of the case and enter upon his duties.' 

A month later, on the 21st of August, the report of Fath 
and Omsdorf was ready. It comprised extracts from the 
confessions of no less than fourteen witches, from a half- 
dozen different jurisdictions." Of their general character 
that of Margarethe of Euren is a sufficient specimen. As a 
stout but stately man, his black beard streaked with gray, 
clad in his long black mantle, with the golden chain of his 
rank about his neck, and mounted perhaps on a fiery horse, 
as they had seen him many a time on high occasions in the 
streets of Trier, so now they claimed to have seen him at 
the witch-sabbath — there as elsewhere, with his deep, clear 
voice, the leader of the whole. Those of the remoter juris- 
dictions, however, did not mention Flade by name, but 
spoke only of lordly folk who seemed to come from Trier. 
As to the witches of Trier itself, the Governor " could not 
remember that Dr. Flade had been accused by any person ; 
for," he added, " the Judge himself was present in person at 
all the examinations and executions." And, even as to 
Grimburg, he said that " some had indeed been executed 
there, but none had accused Dr. Flade, for the region was 

in July of 1597, but was dead in May of 1600. He must liave died in tolerably 
good repute ; for the charges of Scho ApoUonia are objected to as blackening 
the memory of a minister of justice. As to the part taken by notaries in the 
persecution, see the striking sentences of Linden (page 55) and the words of 
Hontheim (p. 10, note). 

' Flade trial, pp. 82-93. A separate letter to Omsdorf instructed him also 
as to his duties. 

' Flade trial, pp. 93-146. These jurisdictions were Pfalzel, St. Maximin, 
St. Paulin, St. Matthias, and Esch, besides those where inquiry was made in 
vain ; but the witches of Esch, like those of Grimburg and Saarburg, do not 
name Flade, 

217] 1^^^^ P'^t^ of Dietrich Flade. 3 1 

remote from the city." ' From Pfalzel, however, he had 
much to contribute ; and, having himself received from the 
Elector a letter of the same date as those to Fath and Oms- 
dorf, the needed depositions had been already sought out — 
for it did not become him, as he deprecatingly remarked to 
Fath, to oppose the Elector's instructions. 

The only questionable evidence was that of the witch 
Kirsten Barbara at St. Matthias. Peter Omsdorf had him- 
self, as notary, taken down her confession against Dr. Flade ; 
but the magistrate, Dr. Dietrich Balen, asserted that in the 
notary's absence she had retracted her accusation, and it 
became necessary to take the testimony of the assessors and 
the court-messenger as to her words. The messenger swore 
that she had indeed wished to retract her confession, and 
that he had sent word of this to Dr. Flade, who in reply had 
told him not to trouble himself about the matter, but to 
bear himself as a messenger should. The kind-hearted 
fellow had also asked the witch why, by retracting her con- 
fession, she caused herself again to be tortured ; to which 
she had bravely made answer, that " it were better she 
should suffer a little than that she should do others a 
wrong." But the poor woman had overrated her strength, 
and all agreed that she had reaffirmed her accusations. The 
Governor had given the Commission the additional informa- 
tion that when, on the morning of Barbara's execution he 
had himself ridden out from the city to receive the criminal 
according to custom, he had met Dr. Flade just outside the 
New Gate. It being still early they had chatted together, 
though of other matters, until the witch appeared ; and, 
when he at last rode to meet her, Dr. Flade had followed. 
Knowing that the magistrate's friends had informed him of 
the woman's accusation, the Governor and others supposed 
that he meant to confront her ; but instead Dr. Flade had 
flung his mantle over his shoulder and had hidden himself 
in the crowd. 

' He mentioned, indeed, the testimony of Jeckell of Reinsfeld (see page 18, 
above). Of Matthias of Weisskirch not a word was yet said. It is to be sus- 
pected that the Elector himself had enjoined strict silence as to the alleged plot 
against his own person. 

32 George L, Burr's Paper. [218 

It was, in sooth, far too late to hope aught from the 
silencing of a single witness. The report of the Commission 
had hardly reached the Elector before there came to him 
tidings of two fresh accusations against Flade ; and a letter 
of September 4th instructed Fath to renew his investiga- 
tion/ Three days later the Elector had found time to dip 
into the report, and was so much interested that he wrote 
the Commissioner to send him the entire confessions in place 
of these extracts ; but the dismay of the local magistrates 
at this proposal to submit their chaotic protocols to the eyes 
of the sovereign found utterance in such a torrent of argu- 
ments that it was suffered to drop." Meanwhile the evidence 
against Flade multiplied day by day ; and when, at the end 
of September, Fath handed in his supplementary report, it 
included six new depositions.' 

A day or two later came an incident which, under the legal 
maxims of that day, was even more damning evidence of 
Dietrich Flade's guilt — his attempt at flight. It was on 
Monday, the 3d of October, 1588, that the imperilled old 
man found an opportunity for this last desperate experi- 

' Flade trial, pp. 161, 162. 

* Flade trial, pp. 173-177. 

"Flade trial, pp. 163-173. They are all from Pfalzel and St. Maximin. 
It is already clear, however, that the Elector had knowledge of the case from 
other sources than his Commissioner ; and with the reports of the Commission 
he later, by accident or design, submitted to the court charged with Flade's 
trial three other bodies of accusation, which have found a permanent place in 
the records of the case (Flade trial, pp. 147-159). What seem to me the 
originals of these, in three distinct handwritings, all differing from Fath's, are 
among the Clotten fragments at Trier (see note, page 5 above). The first of 
them, perhaps from Johann Zandt, contains only the testimony of the next 
Pfalzel witch who accused Flade after Fath's first report. The second, very 
possibly the work of Omsdorf, anticipates in its contents the whole of Fath's 
second report — and more ; for it includes the later confessions of two witches 
burned in October. Nay, more still : it adds the story of Matthias of Weiss- 
kirch (p. 24, above), which only thus makes its way into the records. 
And, not content even with this, the anonymous reporter goes on to tell the 
story of Flade's flight, of which we have next to speak. The third of these 
transmitted papers is a certified extract, dated 7 December, 1588, from the 
confession of a single Saarburg witch. It is to this alone that can properly 
apply the Elector's sentence of enclosure which follows it in the record : " Diese 
Urgichten seint unss an stundt, von unserm Amptman zu Sarburgh einko- 
menn." Was the plural intentionally misleading ? 

219] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 33 

ment.' Johann von Eltz, Commander of the Teutonic Order 
at Trier/ was that day to set out on a journey to the com- 
mandery at Beckingen on the Saar, and thence to the assizes 
at Bolchen in Lorraine ; and he had consented that Dr. 
Flade should be his passenger. He too, he told the Com- 
mander, had errands in that direction — debts to collect, 
foreign money to exchange ; and, furthermore, he wished to 
escort his young nephew, Johann Homphaeus, to the uni- 
versity at Pont-^-Mousson.* Accordingly, when, that morn- 
ing, Johann von Eltz with his coach reached the suburb of 
Heiligkreuz, he found there awaiting him, as by appoint- 
ment, Dr. Flade and his nephew. As he took them in. 
Dr. Flade's maid appeared, bearing on her back a vintage- 
basket heavily laden with money ; and this too was stowed 
in the coach. The fugitive reached Beckingen in safety, but 
the Commander was there overtaken by a message from 
Trier taunting him with helping a witch out of the country.* 
Such a reproach no man could bear ; and, unconvinced by 
the old man's pleas, he brought him back as he had taken 

* Of this episode we have four accounts : (l) the anonymous one described in 
the last note ; (2) the letter of the Burgomasters to the Governor, mentioned on 
page 34 ; (3) Flade's letter to the Elector, as to which see page 35 ; and (4) that 
given by Governor Zandt to the court at the meeting described on page 40. 

' " Landcommenthur der Ballei Lothringen, Commenthur zu Trier und 
Beckingen," was his full title. 

* This Lotharingian school, much sought by the youth of Trier, was then at 
the height of its fame. It was just at this time that there went forth from it 
those three young monks whose zeal was to work such a sweeping reformation 
in the oldest religious orders of the west. Pont-i-Mousson was seventy or 
eighty miles above Trier, on the Moselle, midway between Metz and Nancy. 
Beckingen, just at the Lotharingian frontier, was some twenty-five miles from 
Treves ; and Bolchen, or Boulay, lay on the uplands, half-way from the Saar 
to Metz. 

* That so high an official as the Landcommenthur could have been ignorant 
of what had been now for some time town talk is hard to believe, and the ren- 
dezvous at Heiligkreuz certainly points at collusion. It is more likely that his 
sympathy or his courage failed him. Who sent the message after him we can 
only guess, but it may well have been Johann Zandt, who, at Grimburg, was 
(though not on the direct road) far on the way from Trier to Beckingen. It is 
to be noted that his account, alone of the four, knows that the message was a 
letter. According to Flade's own account it would seem that he stopped at 
Beckingen of his own accord, and that it was only on the return of Eltz from 
Bolchen that the latter insisted on taking him back to Trier. 

34 George L. Burrs Paper. [220 

him away — nephew, money, and all — and set him down at 
the city gate. He had been gone just a week. Back to his 
house, lugging his gold himself, with the aid of the gate- 
keeper and his family, crept the old magistrate ; and it was 
well for him that a chance laborer could let him through the 
back gate by breaking it open with a hatchet, * 

For the flight of Dr. Flade had caused great excitement 
in Trier. The Governor happened to be at Grimburg, but 
the two Burgomasters, Nicolas Fiedler and Johann von 
Kesten, wrote him on the day after the fugitive's return a 
full account of the affair. They had, they assured him, 
warned the gate-keepers not again to let him out of the city ; 
and none too soon, for that very morning he had made dili- 
gent inquiry at the gate, through the husband of a former 
servant, as to whether his exit was forbidden.* 

Johann Zandt hastened back to the city, conferred with 
the Burgomasters, and summoned Flade to appear before 
them at the town-hall. Fearing arrest, however, or wishing 
to gain time, he sent his little nephew, Franz Homphaeus, 
to learn their errand ; and, although the boy was assured that 
his uncle might come without risk, he did not appear. The 
gatekeepers were thereupon officially cautioned ; and to 
good purpose, for that very afternoon Dr. Flade made an 
attempt to issue from the east gate of the town.' But the 

' Flade's house was in the street which still takes its name from the old 
crane on the quay at its end ; but the Krahnen-Strasse then included the 
whole stretch from the Brucken-Strasse to the river. The house I have not 
been able to identify. 

* Flade trial, pp. 69-74. Both Fiedler and Kesten went themselves to 
the stake for witchcraft in 1591 — the victims, as I believe, of that Johann 
Zandt to whom they addressed this letter. Both, like Flade, were men of 
wealth ; and for their trials, too, it was Omsdorf who collected the evidence. 
The records of Fiedler's trial are still extant at Trier, and were printed, with 
notes, by Wyttenbach, in the Trierische Chronik for 1825. Kesten had been 
an Assessor of Flade's court at Trier since 1576 (his letter of February 6th of 
that year thanking the Elector for his appointment is in the Stadt-iBibliothek 
at Trier), and Fiedler also was one of the oldest members of that court. 

* " Zu Mosell pfortten." That this means the Muss-Pforte (Porta Musilis) 
is clear from the context ; but, for proof that this oddly misleading name was 
usual, see an article by Miiller in the Trierische Chronik for November, 1818. 

22 1 ] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 35 

unhappy man was now an object of curiosity to the rabble 
of the streets. A noisy mob, largely of students, gathered 
at his heels ; and when he was turned back from the gate 
the crowd grew so boisterous in its abuse that he was forced 
to take refuge in the near Cathedral, whence he escaped 
through a passage into the adjoining Church of Our Lady, 
and thence by way of the cloister into the house of one of 
the capitulars. Here he had to stay until evening, when, at 
the instance of the Cathedral Provost and Dean, the Gov- 
ernor granted him an escort home through the streets.' 

For the present he was suffered to remain here ; but 
townsmen were deputed by the Governor to watch him, 
night and day, until certain of his friends gave bail for him, 
and he himself made oath, on pain of forfeit of all his prop- 
erty, not to leave the town. But his bondsmen soon grew 
tired or ashamed of their burden : on the 30th of December 
the Elector released them, and he was again watched, at his 
own cost, by four citizens, two each from Trier and from 

Such was the state of affairs when, on the 5th of January, 
1589, Dr. Flade made his last despairing appeal to the 
Elector. Vehemently protesting his innocence before God, 
he begs " out of a deeply troubled heart and a sorrowful 
mind " that he be at last permitted to purge himself of the 
shameful charges against him. The scandal and ignominy 
are more than he can bear. He denies that he has sought to 
leave the country without the Elector's permission, though 
he admits that certain of his friends had hoped to gain this 
for him at the approaching Landtag. He appeals to his 

' Flade trial, pp, 64, 65. Dr. Flade's own explanation of the aflfair, in his 
letter to the Elector, was that his nephew had misunderstood or misquoted the 
answer of the city magnates, and that he had then sought, not to leave the 
city, but to go for advice to the Cathedral Provost, having no longer kin of his 
own blood at Trier to advise him ; that, the Provost being in chapter-meeting, 
he had been forced to wait until too late to appear before the Governor and 
Burgomasters ; and that he had then resolved, in order to escape the insults of 
the rabble, to take up his abode for a time at the abbey of St. Matthias, and 
so had sought exit at the city gate. (Flade trial, pp. 78-80.) 

' Flade trial, pp. 3, 4, 65, 66, 80. 

36 George L, Burr's Paper. [222 

own long and loyal service and to the high standing of his 
kin by marriage. If there may not be granted him " secur- 
ity against the fury of the populace " until he can establish 
his innocence, he asks at least permission to retire from the 
world for the rest of his life into a religious order somewhere 
away from Trier.' 

But the Elector had far other plans. On the 14th of 
January, 1589, he laid Flade's letter, with a copy of the 
evidence against him, before the theological faculty at 
Trier, Accompanying it was a most suggestive appeal for 
their advice." "It has doubtless long ago come to your 
knowledge," he writes, " into what general suspicion of 
witchcraft our Judge at Trier, Dr. Dietrich Flade, has 
fallen, and what has since taken place as to his flight. Now, 
although at first, when he was accused by only one or two 
of the persons executed for witchcraft, we thought the mat- 
ter hardly worthy of notice, and therefore for a while, on 
account of his rank, let the matter drift ; yet afterward the 
scandal grew ever greater, and the accusations of the witches, 
both old and young, men and women, became so frequent 
that we were led to have the trials, in so far as they related 
to him, excerpted, and find that twenty-three executed men 
and women have confessed against him, and persisted firmly 
in the assertion to their end that he was with and among 
them at their witch-sabbaths, took the lead in evil sugges- 
tions, and helped personally to carry them out. And these 
confessions come not from one court alone, but from many 
different ones — from Trier, Maximin, Paulin, Euren, Esch, 
St. Matthias, Pfalzel, Saarburg, and elsewhere ; and the sus- 

' Flade trial, pp. 75-81. 

^ The preservation of this document we owe to one Embden, a student at 
Trier of the eminent jurist, Neller, who, in 1779, doubtless inspired by his 
master, resurrected it (probably from the university archives) and printed 
it with a commentary in his Conatus exegeticus (Trier, "i-TJ^^, a disputation 
under Neller's presidency. It is to be noted that Embden, and probably 
therefore Neller also, still believes in the reality of witchcraft, and even of the 
witch-sabbath. The Elector's communication was addressed to the Rector 
(then Helias Heymans, Dean of St. Simeon) and " gantzen facultet Theologorum 
unserer universiteten in unserer Statt Trier." It is reprinted by Conrad in his 
Trierische Geschichte {W^A^razx, 1821). 

223] 'T^ Pf^t^ of Dietrich Flade. 37 

picion is increased by the fact that others accused by these 
same persons have been found guilty and have confessed — 
among them some of considerable respectability, except 
that partly through avarice, partly through unchastity and 
other devilish impulses, they have fallen into this wretched- 
ness. All this you will learn from the enclosed Extract, and 
especially what a young boy who was misled into such 
witch-doings confessed freely and without constraint against 
him, Flade, though he had never before known him, with 
description of his person, rank, and appearance, and how, 
seeing him by chance at an execution, he immediately, 
without anybody's suggestion, pointed him out and said 
that he was the one who had been always at the witch- 
sabbaths. Well known to you, moreover, is what afterwards 
occurred in connection with his second attempt at flight. 
And we send you also herewith the petition the said Dr. 
Flade wrote us, wherein at the end he almost betrays him- 
self, desiring us to allow him to enter the monastic life, and 
offering us the disposition of his property ' ; a thing which 
surely, if he were not conscious of guilt, was not likely to be 
done by him, a man notoriously avaricious and, as shown by 
an investigation heretofore made, of such character that 
by reason of his avarice justice was almost ill-administered, 
so that we perhaps already had cause enough to dismiss him 
from his office. When we bethink us, however, of the posi- 
tion of honor he has so long held, and remember too that 
among scholars there are current all sorts of objections as to 
the confessions that this one or that has been seen at the 
witch-sabbath, we have wished, for the sake of further 
information, and especially because witchcraft is counted 
among the ecclesiastical crimes, and it has heretofore been 
customary for such cases to be first submitted to ecclesiasti- 
cal judges, and then after their finding to be remitted to the 

' This seems to me a misunderstanding of Flade's letter. What he offered 
was the disposition of himself. He asked " ihnn gaistlichen standt . . . 
mich zubegeben, jhe doch meine Disposition in E. Churf. gnaden gnadigste 
anordtnungh underthienigst heimstellendt." His property he nowhere speaks 
of. The other misconceptions and misstatements of the Elector's rescript need 
no pointing out. 

38 George L. Burr's Paper. [224 

lay judge/ not to omit to consult in this matter the theo- 
logical faculty as well as the jurists, so that nobody, whether 
of high or of low degree, may have right to complain, and 
that in the administration of justice we may fall into no 
error. Therefore it is our gracious will," concludes the 
Elector, " that you of the theological faculty come together 
privately and consider this matter as its importance de- 
mands, and immediately let us know in writing how you 
find it, according to the canon law and the unanimous 
opinion of the theologians, that we may take such further 
steps as it behooves, and that Justice may be left to her 
course without respect of persons." 

But, despite the evident ill-will of this letter, the theo- 
logians of Trier seem to have been as obdurate as the 
scholars and jurists of the Elector's court. At least, no 
finding of theirs was transmitted to the tribunal now 
charged with the final step. On March 23d instructions 
were issued to Johann Zandt von Merl for the arrest of Dr. 
Flade and his confinement in the town-hall ; but it was not 
till a month later, on April 22d, that the Governor thought 
it wise to convene the court and put the writ in execution. 
Even then, as we are told by the clerk, " the Acting Judge 
[Dr. Heinrich Hultzbach, of Saarburg, Flade's deputy and 
eventual successor] and the Assessors had sympathy with 
Dr. Flade and declared that they would rather have been 
relieved of this thing than charged with it " ; but the arrest 
was carried out, although the old man had a disabled thigh 
and had to be borne to his prison in a chair. On May loth' 
he was transported to the Electoral palace, there to confront 
two priests, convicted of witchcraft, who had confessed 
against him. The priests repeated their accusation to his 
face ; " whereupon Dr. Flade answered, * It can and may 

■ A very significant statement, of which I have found no confirmation in the 
extant records at Trier, 

'Flade trial, pp. i-6. He was imprisoned in the "great hall" ("so der 
Burgergefenghnuss ist ") of the Rathhaus, and a special keeper assigned him, 
who should permit him no communication with the outside world. In the 
meantime an inventory was made of the contents of his house, and his papers 
and valuables taken into custody (pp. 6, 7). 

225] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 39 

be that you saw my figure, but my person surely not,' and 
he cited certain examples, and argued that these were pure 
ohfascinationes and delusions of the Devil." ' He was now 
borne back to his prison and left to himself again, while the 
Elector drew up, and on June 9th transmitted, careful 
instructions and a list of questions, based on the absurd 
allegations of the witches, for his examination.* 

On the nth of July Flade was examined upon these 
questions, and answered with much spirit. He denied all 
complicity in, or knowledge of, the doings of the witches, 
again insisting that, if he were seen by them, it was through 
some delusion of the Devil's, and citing the phenomena of 
dreams in support of his theory ; but at the end he begged 
a day or two's time to bethink himself further, and asked 
that his confessor might be suffered to visit him. These 
requests were granted, and his replies forwarded to the 

That prelate was unmoved. On the 29th he sent to the 
Governor his final decision. The matter was now, he 
declared, noised abroad through the whole Empire and out- 
side it, and it behooved the authorities to see that sacred 
justice take its course. Accordingly he transmitted the 
testimony against Flade, with all other documents in his 
hands pertaining to the case, and instructed the court over 
which Dr. Flade had so long presided to proceed against him. 

In the meantime the Acting Judge and most of the 
Assessors had deserted the city. Their ostensible and suf- 
ficient excuse was the pestilential midsummer air of the 
town ; but it is to be noted that not more than two had 
been present at any of the earlier proceedings against Flade, 
and that the letters written by order of the Governor to 
summon them back make no mention of the trial of Flade 
among the items of business demanding their attention. 

' Flade trial, pp. 8-12. 

* Flade trial, pp. 12-34. He had, he said, in his letter of transmission, con- 
sulted impartial jurists, who advised him to delay yet a little the formal indict- 
ment until further " inquisition " could be made. 

' Flade trial, pp. 34-55. 

* Flade trial, p. 78. 

40 George L. Burrs Paper. [226 

They came, however, at the summons' ; and on August 5th 
the Governor detailed to them the whole history of the 
case, laying before them the evidence and the Elector's in- 
structions. They asked time for consideration, and two or 
three days later sent in a unanimous request to be excused 
from the duty, pleading their long and kindly relations 
with the accused, and protesting that they had no official 
knowledge that he was not still their head. But the Elector 
returned a prompt refusal, declaring that Flade had long 
been relieved of his office ; and the Governor assured them 
there was no use putting the matter off — " the apple must 
be bitten." " 

On August 17, 1589, therefore, the formal trial of Flade 
was at last begun. Into all its sickening details we need 
not go : it differed little from other witch-trials, save in its 
greater caution and in the trained subtlety of the victim. 
When he found confession inevitable, he at first tried to 
escape the torture by admitting other intercourse with the 
Devil, while still denying all witchcraft proper. But this 
was as idle as were his personal appeals to his judges. By 
civil as by canon law witchcraft was an " excepted crime " ; 
and not his rank, not his age, not his academic title, not the 
infirmities of his body," could save the proud old man from 
the ignominy of the executioner's touch, or set a limit to 
his torment till he had confessed all that his own imagina- 
tion or that of his inquisitors could suggest.* 

' Except Maxitnin Pergener, who could plead the death of his wife. The 
others were, in the orthography of the record, Christopf Enschringen, Niclas 
Fiedler, Claudius Musiell, Hans Kesten, Bernhard Schroder von Piesport, 
Christopf Fath, Wilhelm Kilburgh, Carl Wolff, Johann Tholess von Ediger, 
and Hans Philipp Boitzheim. All, according to the rules of the court, were 
jurists ( Rechtsgelehrten). 

* Flade trial, pp. 55-69, 178-184, 187-189. 

^ He had a hernia, which caused him especial suffering in the torture. 

■• The form of torture usual at Trier, as generally throughout Germany, was 
that known as the "strappado " — in German, " die Schnur," the cord. The 
prisoner's hands, bound behind his back, were made fast to a rope drawn over 
a pulley at the ceiling, and so lifted till his whole body was wrenched from the 
floor into the air, where he was left hanging, sometimes with weights attached 
to his feet, or with the screw applied to his toes, to intensify the torment. It 
need hardly be said that it often left men and women crippled for life. 

22/] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 41 

It took, indeed, much pain and more than a single session 
to bring the stubborn old man to terms; but the executioner 
had learned his trade now, and it had long been noticed that 
no witch escaped. Soon or late, in sanity or in delirium, the 
agony always did its work. Dietrich Flade knew well what 
a witch-confession was expected to be, and little by little 
they wrung from him the grotesque nonsense they sought. 
He knew, too, that, whatever else might be omitted, one 
thing could never be — the names of accomplices. It was of 
no use to allege that the witches were masked or to name 
only those already executed : such tricks were long worn 
out. A happier thought was it — as is proven by the history 
of more than one witch-persecution — when he began accusing 
his judges ; and at least those absent from the torture- 
chamber were duly named in the record. But no court 
would be content with these alone ; nor yet when, with a 
still truer instinct, he denounced the great of the land.* 

Once it seemed as though his tormentors were satisfied ; 
but the Elector returned the prisoner's answers, declaring 
that thus far they were mere child's play, and the whole 
procedure had to be begun over again.' Piteous was it 
when even the imagination of the old Judge could no 
further go, and, complaining of the failure of his memory, 
he was forced to beg that the testimony against him be 
repeated to him as a reminder — which was done.* 

At last, in mid-September, his confession was complete. 
Not a word had yet been said, in all the trial, of that alleged 
bewitchment of the Elector which, all unknown to Flade, 
had lain at the beginning of his troubles. But when the 
court came together on Saturday, September i6th, to frame 
its sentence, and had summoned the prisoner before it to 

' As " Her Philips, Her zu Wynnenburgh, der junger," Karl von " Kessel- 
stat, Amptman im Hamme," and Philipp " Waldeck[er von Kaimpt], der 
Rotmeister." The Burgomaster Hans Kesten he implicates with evident 
relish. But the whole number of those accused by him was not large. 

* Flade trial, pp. 204, 205. " Dasselb wass er noch zur reit von sich gethan 
fast schertzliche dingh waren." 

' Flade trial, p. 218. 

42 George L. Burrs Paper. [228 

announce to him that the following Monday would be the 
last day of his life, Johann Zandt von Merl turned to him 
and bade him relate to the court what he had already 
privately confessed to himself as to this attempt on the 
Elector's life.' The name of the great dignitary whom he 
now made his accomplice in that impossible crime has since 
been diligently blurred from the record ; but with a little 
pains it may still be deciphered," — nor is it difficult to guess 
by whom it was suggested. 

On the morrow he witnessed the mass and received the 
sacrament at the hands of Father Ellentz and another 
Jesuit.* Early on Monday he made some minor dispositions 
as to his property and confronted without flinching two of 
those whom he had accused.* His confession was then read 
to him, and, having assented to it, he was led out before the 
open court to hear his sentence. Once more Governor 
Zandt reviewed the history of his case, and then in the name 
of public justice solemnly arraigned him as a witch. His 
confession was read to the court, in the hearing of the 

' Flade trial, pp. 224-228. 

' The " Her Dhumbdechant [Domdechant] von der Leyen," with whom as 
accomplices are named " Pauluss uff Grymburgh " and " Michaell Neuwmetz- 
ler." The plot is said to have arisen " dess streits halben, so zwischent dennen 
von Wynnenburgh unnd von der Leyen hiebevom der Dhumbprobsteien halben 
entstanden." I am puzzled by the fact that, according to Brouwer and Masen 
{Metrop. Eccl. Trev., ed. Stramberg, i., p. 153), the Cathedral Dean at this 
time was Hugo Cratz von Scharfenstein, who was elected Feb. 4, 1588, and 
held the post till his promotion to the Provostship in 1623. The name of 
Paulus auf Grimburg adds a straw more to our suspicions of the Amtmann of 
Grimburg. Dean Cratz was later repeatedly accused by the witches of St. 

' Flade trial, p. 228. The second Jesuit was Father Joannes Gilsius, magis- 
ter novitiorum, and later Rector, of his college at Trier. Both he and Father 
Ellentz, but especially the latter, saw much service as witch-confessors. 
Masen tells (in his Epitome Ann. Trev., p. 710) a curious story of how, when 
once Father Ellentz was attending a witch to the stake, the Devil, who had a 
special spite against him, tried to kill him with a hail-storm. 

* The more notable was Peter Behr, a man who had earlier played a large 
part, as a leader of the popular party, in the struggle for the city's independence. 
Behr, too, was tortured into a confession of witchcraft, but committed suicide 
by flinging himself from the tower in which he was imprisoned. 

229] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 43 

assembled public* The Assessors brought in their verdict, 
and, as the clerk uttered the terrible closing words of the 
sentence — that " Dietrich Flade, the accused, now standing 
in the presence of this court, by reason of his crime, in that 
he denied God, devoted himself to the Evil One, served him 
and sinned with him, dealt with witchcraft and did despite 
to the common weal, wrought injury to grain and herb, shall 
be punished with fire, from life unto death, as we him hereby 
thereunto doom, sentence, and condemn, to Almighty God 
and his mercy commending his soul " — the Acting Judge 
rose from the seat where for thirty years Dietrich Flade 
himself had presided in honor and confirmed the sentence 
by breaking his staff of office. Thereupon, as was the cus- 
tom, the condemned man fell upon his knees and craved the 
mercy of the court ; in token whereof he was accordingly 
commended to the executioner, to be first " mercifully and 
Christianly strangled," and his body then burned to ashes.' 

" Thus," writes one who must have been an eye-witness,' 
" as a criminal and dishonored, he heard his sentence 
from the very court whose severity he himself as judge had 

' Excepting, of course, that part of it which spoke of the plot against the 

' Flade trial, pp. 234-251. 

'The Jesuit Brouwer (in his Ann. Trev., lib. xxii.). " Magiae et artium 
execrandarum, quae variis indiciis et ipsa confessione rei cumulabantur, dam- 
natus, sententiam mortis ex illo tribunali, cujus nempe severitatem multis ipse 
annis judex moderatus erat, audiit reus ac sordidatus. Prodeuntem ad sup- 
plicii locum, quod iter gravescente licet aetate et fessus serumnis, pedibus facere 
voluit, universa spectaculi novitate prosecuta civitas : cum ipse interim in omni 
via tam altos spiritus gereret, ut omnibus animi fortitudinem in ilia tanta de- 
jectione suspicientibus, nullam ederet vocem, qua se vel casum suum mortisve 
probrosae miseraretur infamiam. Ubi ad pyram perventum, circumfusam 
multitudinem oratione tempori apta, nee infracto quicquam animo, allocutus 
est, hortatusque ut illud exemplum exitus tam luctuosi acciperent pro docu- 
mento, fraudes dolosque inimicissimi Satanae vitandi. Quibus dictis et factis, 
animS prsesertim per Societatis Jesu sacerdotem Christianse poenitentiae prse- 
sidiis instructa, atrocitatem culpae reus minuit, mortem ver6 civibus approbavit." 
In the margin at this passage Brouwer's seventeenth-century editor and con- 
tinuator, Masen, has printed, " Vide hac de re Notas et Additamenta nostra in- 
ferius" ; but repeated and most careful search has failed to show me anything 
on this head in his notes and additions. Perhaps he wished to add the wild 
story he later published in his Ejfitome (see p. 46 below). 

44 George L. Burr's Paper. [230 

for many years restrained. As he went to the place of 
execution, whither, though he was in declining years and 
was worn out by his troubles, he insisted on going afoot, the 
whole city, stirred by the novel sight, followed after. And 
yet, with such lofty spirit did he bear himself that to not 
one of all those who beheld his self-control in that terrible 
humiliation did he utter a word of complaint for himself or 
his fall or the infamy of his ignominious death. When the 
stake was reached he addressed the thronging crowd in 
words suited to the occasion and with unbroken spirit, ex- 
horting them to learn from the example of his mournful fate 
to shun the deceits and wiles of the arch-enemy Satan. Thus 
by word and deed the criminal mitigated the atrocity of his 
crime, yet justified to his townsmen his death." It was the 
1 8th of September, 1589. 

Such was the fate of Dietrich Flade. Was he a martyr, 
or was he only one more victim of a superstition which he 
shared and to which he had sacrificed others? No historian 
makes answer. The ripple of interest stirred by his fate 
throughout Europe found only scanty record in the contem- 
porary annals ' ; and even the periodical " relations," then 

' The minorite CratepoHus, in his De Germania episcopis et orthodoxis doc- 
toribus, etc. (Coin, 1592), speaks (pp. 230, 231) of " quid am non infimae apud 
Reveren. Electorem autoritatis Doctor Flat," who " annis superioribus " de- 
servedly suffered death for his witchcraft ; and Haraeus, in his Annales dtuum 
Brabantim (Antwerp, 1623), also mentions with approval the execution of 
" Celebris pridem Doctor I[uris] Vftriusque] Flattenus, Electoris Trevirensis 
Consiliarius." A C6ln chronicle, still unprinted {Chronicon Coloniense, 
1500-1596, ColnStadt-Bibliothek, A. II. 70), speaks somewhat more fully of 
his fate, but suppresses his name, saying: " nomen viri factumque ab aliis 
multis proditum non attinet pluribus enarrare." Similarly circumspect is a 
little Trier manuscript (codex 1355 of the Trier Stadt-Bibliothek), which tells 
us under 1589, that " Treviris Senator quidam N, Fl. afficitur Supplicio magiae 
debito post seriam dehortationem a curiositate." But this manuscript, which 
bears the name and date of Joannes Henricus Anethanus, Trevirensis, 1647, 
and is not improbably the work of that Weihbischof, is clearly only a summary 
of the Annales Trev. of Brouwer ; and, indeed, there is appended to it a simi- 
lar summary of his Metropolis. It is not this manuscript, but a blundering 
copy of it, still to be found at Bonn (in the volume called Gesta Pon- 
tificum Trevirorum, No. 343 of the University Library), that is printed by 
Hontheim in his Prodromus as " codex Canonise Eberhardo-Clusanae." 

23 1] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 45 

fast ripening into the modern newspaper, cared only for the 
tragic story of the man himself,' while the news-letters which 
scattered broadcast over the empire the tidings of the 
horrible confession and death of such a monster turned 
him outright into another and a wickeder Faust.* Even 

' Thus Eyzinger's Relationis historiccc continuatio , . . iiss auf den ig. 
tag Septemb. ij8g (Coin, 1589), where oddly enough Flade's death is entered 
under 26 May. How the Fl of Flattenus becomes the H of Hattenus is easier 
to see. Among the witches of Trier, says the relation, " war auch einer auss 
den Fumembsten Rathen des Churfursten zu Trier, eines grossen vermSgens 
und reich mit namen Hattenus ein Rechtsgelehrter, diser wardt gefencklich 
eingetzogen, unnd fur einen zauberer in die sechs monat gefangen gehalten, als 
er aber das Factum bekendt, welches man ime fur zauberey aufflegen wolt, 
und dagegen sustineret, wie dass es aUein Magia ware, unnd dahin nit verstan- 
den kunte werden, als soil es mit dem, so er bewiesen und gethon, fur strafliche 
zauberey gerechnet werden, angesehen es alles der natur gemess und nichts 
teuflisch oder obgottisch, so begehret er derhalben relaxirt, und der gefenckhnuss 
entschlagen zuwerden. Man hielt aber denselben, als einen Radl fuhrer der 
andem zauberer, welches mit ime gehalten, damit man nun den andem ein 
forcht an jaget von ihrer zauberey abzustehen. , . , So ist der gemelt Hat- 
tenus allezeit den 26. Tag Maii von wegen zauberey zum todt verurtheilt und 
gericht worden, darauss woU ab zunemen, das er nit naturaliter sonder Diabolice 
mit der khunst wider Gott unnd wider sein Gebott, dem menschlichen ge- 
schlacht zuschaden an leib und Seel umbgangen ist." 

" Before the end of 1589 Nicolaus Schreiber at Coin printed a Warhafftige 
und erschreckliche Beschreibung von vielen Zauberern oder Hexen, wie und 
warumb man sie kin und wider, verbrandt, in disetn i^Sg. yahre, etc., (see 
Prutz, Geschichte des deutschen youmalismus, p. 167). This I have not seen ; 
but there is every reason to believe that it is precisely this which in 1594 he 
reprinted as the second of Drei Warhafftige Newe Zeitung (No. 777 of Wel- 
ler's Die ersten deutschen Zeitungen) — Die ander. Von vilen Hexen und Unhol- 
den, die man . . . im Trierischen Land, und andern Orten verbrendt hat, etc. 
In this (I have used the copy in the Kantonal-Bibliothek at Aarau in Switzer- 
land), several of whose fifteen stanzas are devoted to Flade, though without 
naming him, he is thus introduced : 

" Nun muss ich jetzund zeigen an, 

Sie hetten under in einen Hauptman, 
derselb ihr Konig ware, 

Ein furtrefflicher gelehrter Mann, 

Doctor in der Astronomy schon, 
unnd aller Kunst erfahren, 

der hat mit seiner Zauberey, 

gross hertzen Leid gestifftet, 

vil Menschen unnd Vieh mancherley, 
gestorben und vergiflFtet, 

dem Doctor Fausto vergleichet er, 

46 George L. Burr 5 Paper. [232 

in his own home, history soon yielded him to legend. 
Not a century had gone before he appeared in the pages 
of Masen * as a second Theophilus, led in his youth into 
magic by a student's curiosity and bargaining with the 
Devil for learning and station at the price of merely 
teaching that " Hell is not so hot, nor the Devil so black, 
as people think "; but cheated at last by his Satanic ally, 
who tempts him to go masked to the witch-sabbaths, that 
he may the more easily convict the witches brought before 
his court, then at last unmasks him to the others' sight 
and leaves him the victim of their vengeance. 

But, a decade after Flade's death, the learned Jesuit 
Delrio, writing at Lifege, less than a hundred miles away, 
his monumental book in support of witch-persecution, and 
needing a modern instance to stay his doctrine that the 

von seiner Zaubereye, 
ein grosses Buch zu schreiben wer." 
It surely was not without its influence on Flade's fate that it was just the years 
of his accusation and trial which saw the appearance of the Faust Volksbiicher ; 
and it is possible that his fate was not without its counter-influence on the 
popular interest in the Faust story. 

' Epitome Ann. Trev. (Trier, 1676), p. 6gi. " Quando rursum domestica 
Magorum infamia Treviris, in prsecipuae etiam dignitatis persona, Theodorico 
reorum Judice atque urbis Prsetore, ipso non diffitente, emanavit. Quiquidem, 
utex Actis Judicialibus notum, rudibus annis, curiositate libri, quo Daemon, ad 
secretas artes tradendas evocabatur, ductus, cum legeret mox praesentera, 
honesta viri specie, Daemonem habuit. Qui ad studia, quorum amore tene- 
batur se eidem promotorem obtulit : nee quicquam postulavit obsequii, nisi, ut 
cum sermo ita ferret, diceret : Infernum non adehesse calidum, nee Dcemonem 
tam nigrum esse, quhm vulgus fingeret. 

" Et quidem tantiim Uteris jurisque demum scientia excelluit, ut Principi k. 
consiliis factus, Judiciis demum etiam praesideret. Sed cum seusim eum 
abduxisset Daemon longius, impetrassetque, ut Magorum conventibus, larva 
ipse tectus, interesset, ideoque in qusestionibus exercendis i se conspectos 
facilius convinceret, fefellit denique pleno in consensu Daemon, larvamque 
detraxit ; unde k suis consortibus in societatem criminis vocatus, licet diu 
restiterit ; quod ab invidia, non veritate, profectam accusationem sontium 
examinatores crederent : tamen postrem6 testimoniis obrutus, postquam sine 
noxa cujusquam se hoc crimen admisisse diu frustra contendisset, cessit justi- 
tise. . . . Cognomentum tamen Rei, munerumque quae obiit gravitatem, 
consulto quorundam in gratiam dissimulamus." 

The oddest thing about this odd tale is that Masen claims to know it "ex 
Actis Judicialibus." 

233] 1'^ P<^ie of Dietrich Flade. 47 

protector of witches is probably himself a witch, wrote this 
startling sentence : " In our own times Dr. Vlaet, one of 
the councillors of the Elector of Trier, tried this with all his 
might and main ; but to him stoutly opposed himself Peter 
Binsfeld with a learnedly written confutation of his error — to 
wit, his book * On the Confessions of Witches.' " " This 
Vlaet," he adds, " being arrested, at last confessed his crime 
and deceit, and was burned at the stake." ' 

The statement is not incredible. True, Bishop Binsfeld 
himself, who first published his book in 1 589,* the very year of 
Flade's trial and death, does not mention his name ' ; but 
there is much in the book that is hardly less significant. 
In the preface to this first edition he expressly tells us that 
he prints it in the hope of dispelling a skepticism which hin- 
dered the punishment of witches in his own home.* It is to 

' Delrio, Disquisitiones magicje (Louvain, 1 599-1601), lib. v.,§ 4 (vol. iii., p. 
36). Flade had already been mentioned at lib. ii., qu. 12 ; and in later 
editions he is again |named at lib. v., § 16. In the earlier draft of 
Delrio's book, in the National Library at Brussels (codex 3633 : De super- 
stiiione et malts artibus), Flade is not mentioned ; but the passage quoted 
appears unchanged in all the revisions of the printed work. Delrio, I think, 
never visited Trier, though in a letter to Justus Lipsius ( Burmann's Sylloges 
epistolarum, Leyden, 1731, vol. i.) of June 3, 1591, he speaks of meaning to do 
so (" Cogito hinc Treviros, atque illinc ad vos," etc.) ; but between that city 
and Liege intercourse was constant, and in the same letter Delrio mentions 
the arrival, while he was writing, of messages "quas tabellarius Trevirensis 
attulit." Moreover Delrio's book, which made much stir in the learned world, 
must have been at once known to his fellow-Jesuits at Trier ; and, though 
Binsfeld was dead (in 1 598), there were many (as Father Ellentz or Christoph 
Brouwer) who must have known whether the statement about Flade was true 
and who could have been trusted to prevent an error's recurrence in later 

' See note, p. 13 above. 

' This is not strange. Even when, in a later edition, Binsfeld had occa- 
sion to confute Loos, who had written a book in reply to him, he out of pro- 
fessed courtesy suppressed his adversary's name ; and Loos himself had been 
not less considerate. Moreover, as we have already seen, all Trier writers of 
the time conceal Flade's name — doubtless out of regard for his family. Both 
the Flades and the Homphaei continued to hold positions of dignity in the 

* Being the more willing to publish it, he says, "quanto certiis cognovi 
plures esse, . . . qui profecto aut propria privataque affectione depressi, aat 
dsemonum illusione excsecati, non cognoscunt, nee sentiunt, nos omnes in hac 

48 George L. Burr's Paper. [234 

judges, above all, that from beginning to end his book is 
addressed : their sluggishness, their errors, their doubts, 
receive his longest and most earnest paragraphs. Nor is 
what he combats a mere general incredulity as to the worth 
of the witch-confessions ; it is a particular form of it — the 
form represented not by the physician Weyer, whose here- 
sies on this point were the current ones, but by the long- 
dead jurist Ponzinibius, who did not question the testimony 
of the witches against themselves, but denied all validity to 
their denunciation of others. " I have wished," says Bins- 
feld, " the principal scope of my treatise to be the question, 
whether faith is to be put in the confession of witches 
against their accomplices "; and only for the better elucida- 
tion of this does he treat the general question at all. That 
the objections of Ponzinibius are matters of present impor- 
tance he proves by an illustration : " I remember," he says, 
" myself to have heard from a certain jurist (whether in 
earnest or in jest I cannot say) that he cared naught for a 
thousand denunciations." And he devotes the closing para- 
graphs of his work to refuting those who explain the denun- 
ciations by the theory that the Devil can himself imperso- 
nate whom he will at the witch-sabbaths.' 

Now, the only tribunal in Bishop Binsfeld's neighborhood, 
of whose sluggishness, so far as extant records show, he 
could have reason to complain, was that of which Dietrich 
Flade was the head. Witch-trials this court also had, even 
under his presidency, as with so zealous a public prosecutor 
as Johann Zandt it could hardly help having; but, as com- 
pared with the terrible activity of its rural neighbors or 
with its own after Flade's death, there is reason enough to 
suspect it of sloth." As if to prove that its rival, the ecclesi- 

patria ob multitudinem Maleficorum et Sagarum, non solum periclitari in vita, 
fortunis rebusque omnibus ad humanse vitse conservationem necessariis, sed 
etiam gravissimo animarum salutis discrimini exponi." 

' And it is to be noted how the original preface is dropped, and all the pro- 
portions of the work changed, in the later editions, when he has the book of 
Loos and the theories of Weyer to answer. 

' That witches had been condemned by it, we know from Flade's own mouth, 
for when asked, in the course of his confession, how, knowing himself guilty of 

235] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 49 

astical court at Trier, shared none of this caution, the 
learned Official at its head, Bartel Bodegem, contributed 
to Binsfeld's book an introductory poem, in which he too 
attacks such judicial heresies.' 

Moreover, these views coincide wholly with what little 
we know of Flade's opinions. There is nothing in his trial 
to suggest that he doubted the existence of witches ; but we 
have seen how he repeatedly tried to meet the accusations 
against him by urging that the Devil must have assumed 
his person. Hardly could the torture itself drive him from 
this position ; and, when forced to confess against others, 
he over and over again qualified his accusation by adding : 
" But whether it was himself in person or only the Evil One 
in his form I cannot say." And it could hardly have been 
mere selfish cowardice, when, on the morning after his first 
taste of the torture, Johann Zandt and Dr. Hultzbach asked 
him what conclusion he had reached during the night, he 
replied : " This evil is not to be helped by severity ; but 
through penitence, sorrow, and penance many might be 
won back, if only mercy were shown them." * Therefore, 
whether it were the stout obstinacy of Greth Braun at the 
beginning of his dealings with witches, or only his own 
costly experience at the end, that suggested them, it seems 
tolerably clear that before his death Dietrich Flade held the 
opinions which Peter Binsfeld fought ; and the phrase in 
which we have heard the Jesuit witness of his death describe 

just such crimes, he could yet help condemn others to death, he could only reply 
that not he, but the Assessors, pronounced the sentence, and that he only con- 
firmed it by breaking the staff. (" Weill er sich in diesen unnd dergleichen 
stucken selbst schuldigh gewust, wie er dan andere zum thodt verurtheilen helffen 
kunnen ? Sagt er hab kein urtheill gesprochen, sender die Scheffen, unnd er 
hab allein die urtheill mit brechungh dess stabs confinnirt. " (Flade trial, p. 223.) 

' Bartholomaeus von Bodeghem (as he wrote his own name) was Official at 
Trier from 1578 to 1608. He was a native of Delft, and was a correspondent 
of both the elder and the younger Grotius. His rich collection of books, be- 
queathed to the Jesuits, is now a part of the City Library at Trier, and its vol- 
umes on witchcraft attest his interest in that subject. Is it significant, however, 
that his verses were not reprinted by Binsfeld in subsequent editions, a fresh 
Carmen contra maUficos by one "A. v. Bruele, S. Th. D.," being substituted ? 

' Flade trial, p. 195. 

50 George L. Burrs Paper. [235 

his relation to the court which condemned him points 
strongly to the earlier date. 

Nor is it inconsistent with this that those who later wrote 
against the persecution say nothing of his views ; for by his 
confession he had become the best argument of their oppo- 
nents. So when, a year or two after Flade's death, there came 
to the University of Trier the fiery Dutch professor, Cornelius 
Loos, who, led by Weyer's reasoning into a more thorough- 
going skepticism, dared to write a book in reply to Binsfeld, 
it was only the dark allusions inserted by the latter, in the 
second edition of his work, to the confession of a learned 
man, by which the witch-sabbath was proved no dream of 
deluded old women merely, that drove him to mention 
Flade at all.' And the canon. Linden, who, though an eye- 
witness, must have been but a youth, and not till a quarter- 
century later wrote that scathing account of the persecution 
at Trier by which it is chiefly known to history, may well 
have forgotten, if he ever knew, the hesitation of the judge 
whom he is content with enumerating among its victims.* 

' I know, cries Loos (in his De vera et falsa magia, lib. i., cap. 39), whom 
you mean by the " viri docti," whose confession of witchcraft you urge. 
" Quantum hie conjectura consequi licet, scio et mecum uni plurimi, quisnam 
doctor, et quinam alii sunt : si ab eruditione commendati, non jam qusero. 
Veriim ut una hirundo (sicut in proverbio est) non facit ver ; nee unus et alter 
forte insulsus et infatuatus doctor . . . fidem in re ardua nequaquam faciunt. 
. . . Ut mod6 non discutiatur, ne parum hie instrucli mox offendantur, turn 
prudentes et rem praesentem hanc intelligentes, invisa proUxitate graventur ; 
num illi, quorum tacitis nominibus ingeritur mentio, delati citius de magise 
crimine fuerint, qucim ver6 convicti : tum calumniis constemati, et ignominia 
turbati, ad hsec quaestioni liberis personis, tum eruditione et dignitate conspi- 
cuis indigne subjecti : et poenis tum contumeliosis, tum acerbis divexati, 
extortum potius emiserint confessionem, qu^m veram dederint : ut infelicr 
vitae misera morte semel finem facerent." He promises, indeed, that " de hac 
in sequentibus, prout institutum foret, fusius dicetur." But these later pages 
were perhaps never written. Only a few sheets of his book had been printed 
when it was seized by the ecclesiastical authorities, and for centuries it was 
thought lost, until, in 1886, it was my good fortune to find the manuscript of 
the first two of its four books on the shelves of the Stadt-Bibliothek at Trier. 
Since then, so much of it as had been printed has been unearthed at the 
library of Coin. 

'This cardinal passage may be found in Hontheim, Hist. Trev. Dip!., iii. 
(p. 170, note), and in the Gesta Trev., ed. Wyttenbach and Mliller ; but 
neither of these follows with absolute accuracy Linden's aut(^raph (codex 1359 

237] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 51 

But had Dr. Flade's opinions aught to do with his fate ? 
We may never know. Whatever their remoter share in it, 
few modem students of the story, I think, will doubt that its 
chief agent was the Freiherr Zandt von Merl. But there are 
many ways in which the Judge may have stood in the way 
of the Governor, Johann Zandt was, it is true— as might be 
much more fully shown — one of the most zealous of witch- 
persecutors, and, it is to be feared, not one of the most 
disinterested. There is abundant reason to suspect him of 
impatience of the city's slowness to share the panic* Be- 
yond that, all is conjecture. 

of the Trier Stadt-Bibliothek), and I therefore transcribe it here with care from 
the manuscript : 

" Quia vulgo creditum, multorum annorum continuatam sterilitatem i strigi- 
bus et maleficis diabolical invidia causari ; tola patria in extinctionem malefica- 
nim insurrexit, Hunc motum juvabant multi oiBciati ex hujusmodi cineribus 
aurum et divitias sperantes. Unde tota Diocesi in oppidis et villis per Tri- 
bunalia currebant selecti accusatores, Inquisitores, Apparitores, Scabini, 
Judices, Lictores, qui homines utriusque sexns trahebant in causam et quaes- 
tiones, ac magno numero exurebant. Vix aliquis eorum qui accusati sunt, 
supplicium evasit. Nee parcitum fuit Magnatibus in urbe Trevirensi. Nam 
Praetor cum duobus Consulibus, Senatoribus aliquot et Scabinis incinerati sunt. 
Canonici diversorum CoUegiorum, Parochi, Decani rurales in eadem fu^re 
damnatione. Tandem eousque furentis populi [et] Judicnm insania proces- 
serat sanguinem et praedam sitientium, ut vix inventus fuerit, qui non aliqul 
huius sceleris maculd notaretur. Interim Notarii, Actuarii et Caupones 
ditescebant. Camifex generoso equo instar aulici nobilis ferebatur, auro, 
argentoque vestitus : uxor ejus vestium luxu certabat cum Nobilioribus. Sup- 
plicio affectorum liberi exulabant ; bona publicabantur : deficiebat Arator et 
Vinitor, hinc sterilitas. Vix putatur saevior pestis aut atrocior hostis pera- 
grasse Trevirensium fines, quam hie immodicae inquisitionis et persecutionis 
modus : plurima apparebant argumenta non omnes fuisse noxios. Dnrabat 
haec persecutio complures annos ; et nonnulli qui Justitiae praeerant, gloria- 
bantur in pluralitate paloram, ad quorum singulos, singula humana corpora 
Vulcano tradita. 

" Tandem cum haec sentina assiduo Vulcano non exhauriretur ; depauperaren- 
tur antem subditi ; leges inquisitionibus et Inquisitoribus eorumque quaestui ct 
sumptibus latae et exercitae sunt ; subitoque sicut in bello, deficiente pecuniae 
nervo, cessavit impetus Inquirentium. Observatum fuit paucos, opes ex hac 
laniena corrasas ad tertios haeredes transtulisse." 

The verses hereto added by Wyttenbach are not in Linden's MS. In 1599 
Linden was already canon of St. Simeon and J. U. D. His chronicle breaks 
off at 1626 ; but he was still living in 1637, and is said to have died in 1639. 

• Nobody who has read Linden's words will count it rash to suspect him of 
avarice. His victims were largely rich men. In 1591 the Elector himself was 

52 George L, Burr's Paper. [238 

Had he accomplices ? Were the Jesuits his allies ? Were 
they his tools, or was he theirs ? The ablest of the historians 
of witchcraft has charged their order with using the witch- 
persecution as a cloak for the punishment of heresy and 
seeking to burn as witches those whom under the law of the 
Empire they could no longer burn as heretics ; and he bases 
this charge largely on the history of the persecution at Trier.' 
After a careful study of the documents left us, I find as yet 
no reason to share his view. The heretics were indeed not 
yet rooted out at Trier. Persecution for heresy went on 
side by side with persecution for witchcraft.' It would 
have been strange, in sooth, if the two Satanic crimes were 
never associated in fervid minds ; nor could one wonder if 
those who severed themselves religiously from the sym- 
pathy of their neighbors had been most easily suspected of 
so unnatural a sin as witchcraft.' Heresy could surely not 
be expected to mitigate the severity of their judges. But 
that this suspicion was actually felt, or that the Jesuits ever 
consciously confused the two crimes, I find scant evidence.* 

forced to limit by an edict the exorbitant costs of the trials. In 1595 a St. 
Maximin witch, Meyers Crist of Riol, testified that, though she knew she had 
been accused of witchcraft, she took no steps to clear herself, because "sie 
sehe woll wie es geschaffen, dan die Hern brennen allein die Reichen, und 
drachten dem gut allein nach " (see her trial, in Trier Stadt-Bibliothek). Could 
fear have had its share, too, with Johann Zandt ? In 1591 he told Nicolas 
Fiedler he would gladly have spared him, but for the common cry from every- 
where outside the city that *' Ich, Schultheiss unnd Scheffen woUen keine ge- 
rechttigkeitt administriem, mit Ahmhudung [Anmuthung] wir seien solichen 
verdamblichen lasters villicht auch schuldig," wherefore they " habenn darumb 
krafft unserer eidt unnd pfligt, Auch unsere Personen zu entschuldigen, denn 
Anfang mit euch unnd andern denuntiirten Personen ipachen muessen." 

' Soldan, Geschichte der Hexenprocesse (Stuttgart, 1843), pp. 358-361 ; and 
neu bearbeitet von H. Heppe (Stuttgart, 1880), ii., pp. 33-37. 

* The Jesuit letters are full of it. In 1588, we are told, sixty persons 
at Trier abjured their heresy. Not until 1596 do we read that " non fere ulli 
sunt hac infecta labe in hac Urbe." 

* Thus in Protestant lands, as at Paderbom, the Jesuits were themselves 
suspected of complicity with the Devil and of the use of witchcraft. 

* The darkest fact is their constantly harboring the boy-informers ; for, alas, 
the instances we have met were by no means the only ones. Again and again 
we hear of it ; and even so late as 1599 we learn from them how a " puer 
annorum trium et decem. veneficiis ad noctuma nefandaque consortia traduce- 

•239] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 53 

There is no savor of heresy in the witch-confessions left to 
us, though every effort was made to trace witchcraft to 
Protestantism, and though all the older witches were made 
to confess that it came into the Electorate with the raid of 
Albert of Brandenburg, in 1552. The Devil at Trier was, 
in truth, a very orthodox Devil, who always spoke of the 
Virgin Mary as " the Bride," and insisted on his servants 
renouncing the Saints as well as the Godhead, and on their 
treating the sacrament as the veritable body of Christ. 
Nay, we read, in the letter of the Trier Jesuits for 1588, 
that " of all the nets of Satan which he devotes himself to 
weaving for the ruin of good people, this is perhaps the 
most notable that those whom he can nowise seduce from 
the pure fount of the Roman faith by the teachings of 
heretics " he leads into witchcraft.* 

At all events, Dietrich Flade was no Protestant. He 
confessed,' indeed, that he had harbored religious doubts, 
and even ascribed to them his fall into the power of Satan ; 
but the one doubt he named — a questioning of the need of 
the sacrifice of Christ for man's salvation — was not one 
of those that divided the warring faiths. All his life he 
had been a leader of the Catholic party; and his most 
devoted friend till death was apparently his Jesuit con- 
fessor, Father Ellentz. And if it seems strange that men so 
subtle as the Jesuit fathers could be played upon by the 
boy-accomplices of Johann Zandt, one must remember that 
a Justus Lipsius was even then standing sponsor to the 
witch-code of a Delrio. Such men had once for all turned 
their backs on the protests of the carnal reason. 

batur, coepit inde personas et scelera detegere," and how they saved him from 
the molestations of Satan. That the Jesuits were the most ardent promoters 
of both persecutions goes without saying. They boasted that they had almost 
a monopoly of the spiritual care of the witches. That they had great power of 
Kfe and death is clear from their stories of those spared at their request. 

' In 1591 Johann Zandt complained to his colleagues of the court that *' dass 
laster der Zauberey dermassen weit eingerissen, dass bait die frombsten, und 
so man darvur gehalten, darmit besodelt gefonden werden." Binsfeld ex- 
pressly names excessive piety as a ground for suspicion of witchcraft. 

* Flade trial, pp. 193, 194. 

54 George L. Burrs Paper, [240 

Nor is it hard to see by what means the Governor won 
their hearts. In their letter for 1588 we read, in touching 
detail, how " the man foremost at Trier in authority, wealth, 
and station, a man companionable and affable to all," falling 
into conversation with a woman of low degree, was suddenly 
bewitched by her with such an illness that no remedies could 
put him out of his pain till some of the fathers came to his 
relief with masses, prayers, and sacred music ; how this man, 
because, as his high office required, he was wont to enforce 
the laws severely against these wicked crones, was often 
thus assailed with witchcraft ; and how, when once a peasant 
woman offered him some eggs, and the boy who was with 
him had taken them in his cap, the eggs were no sooner 
emptied out and the cap put back on the boy's head than 
the lad was seized with a frenzy of pain, which was only 
stilled by his rushing to the nearest church and plunging his 
head into the holy-water font. The woman, of course, was 
tortured into confession, and explained how she had pre- 
pared the eggs for the destruction of the great man. And 
in the Jesuit letter for 1589, in the same breath in which 
they tell us of the death of Flade and his fellows, they add 
with joy that at a public dinner the Governor " did not hesi- 
tate to say that he would be unwilling to fill so troublesome 
and dangerous an office, were he not so greatly helped by 
our devotion in preparing the souls of the witches to meet 
death bravely." What wonder that a man who knew so 
well how to use the superstition and the vanity of his 
fellows should have prospered in his crimes as in his am- 
bitions? ' 

But, if to Johann Zandt belongs the largest share in the 
fate of Dietrich Flade, one only less great belongs to His 
Electoral Grace, Johann VII. of Trier. Who may have 

' Binsfeld, too, was a dupe of Johann Zandt ; to him he owed that remarka- 
ble story of the power of consecrated church-bells over the witches — an indirect 
result of which, perhaps, was the custom, kept up at Trier for centuries, of 
ringing the city church-bells all night throughout the month of May. In 1599 
Zandt had left the Governorship for the higher post of Landhofmeisler ; and 
in 1 61 1, when the worthy chronicler, Johann Mechtel, had the honor of sitting 
next him at dinner, he was still thriving in that office. 

24 1 ] The Fate of Dietrich Flade, 55 

stood beside or behind him in his action we can but guess ; 
a certain querulousness and a sovereign contempt of exac- 
titude in his rescripts savor of his unaided hand. Nor may 
we know whether he was most moved by personal fear or 
by superstitious zeal, or perchance by something more than 
these. The sincerity of his belief in witchcraft it is hard to 
doubt ; and touching is the firmness of his conviction that 
whatever is said after priestly absolution, at the risk of their 
souls, by men and women in the face of death must be true. 
Nay, even in those later and to our eyes far more damaging 
insinuations against Flade's purity and honor as a magis- 
trate he must have put some faith, or he would hardly have 
chosen to lay them before that jurist's academic colleagues. 
Yet there is much beside their evident malice to make us 
hesitate fully to credit them. The non-reply of the theo- 
logical faculty, the general esteem in which Dr. Flade stood, 
the almost eulogistic words of the Jesuit Brouwer, the ab- 
sence of such charges in the testimony upon his trial, and 
the silence of opponents like Binsfeld and the Jesuit letter- 
writers, who could have pointed with his fault so tempting 
a moral, not to mention his own repeated appeals to the 
faithfulness of his official service, if not conclusive of his 
innocence, ought surely to outweigh charges so suspiciously 
partisan. Not even in the torture did he confess to any 
lapse from honesty ; and not legend itself, though it ascribed 
his wealth to diabolic aid, ever dreamed it gained by dia- 
bolic methods. That the old Judge loved money may well 
have been true ; but the love of money could hardly have 
been criminal which refused to make use of the means by 
which his fellow-magistrates were everywhere enriching 
themselves — the persecution of witches. It was of this per- 
secution in the district of Trier that Linden wrote : 
" Notaries, copyists, and innkeepers grew rich. The execu- 
tioner rode on a blooded horse, like a courtier, clad in gold 
and silver ; his wife vied with noble dames in the richness 
of her array." " Not," he adds, " till suddenly, as in war, 
the money gave out, did the zeal of the inquisitors flag." 
Two years after Flade's death, Johann VII. himself had to 

56 George L. Burr's Paper, [242 

interpose with an edict to check the impoverishment of his 
subjects by the witch-hunters.* 

Nay, the Elector himself has not wholly escaped the sus- 
picion of avarice. May not the wealth of Flade have played 
another part in hastening his fate ? Confiscation of the 
property of witches was not usual at Trier * ; but there is 
still extant a letter of the Elector's,* wherein he informs the 
civic authorities of Trier that, " inasmuch as we find among 
Dr. Dietrich Flade's property a note specifying four thou- 
sand gulden in gold as in the keeping of the city of Trier, 
the disposition of which for peculiar reasons, as you perhaps 
may know, belongs to us," therefore the sum maybe divided 
among the parish-churches of the city. Now, this was but 
a small part of his wealth ; for there also remains an inven- 
tory of his property, taken in 1590 by the town-clerk of 
Trier, which shows it to have been vast.* Is it possible, 

* It may be found in Hontheim, Hist. Trev. Dipl., iii. The original is 
still at Trier (codex 2529 of the Stadt-Bibliothek). 

' Brouwer expressly commends the Elector because " k damnatorum bonis, 
quod legibus poterat, nihil sibi fiscus vindicaret." By the charter of 1580 were 
relinquished, out of special grace, to the citizens of Trier, all confiscations, 
" ausserhalb denselben, so in Kayserlichen rechten ausstrucklich begrieffen 
sind" ; and Binsfeld repeatedly tells us (as on p. 23 of the ed. of 1589) that 
witches were thus exempt from confiscation, complaining in the same breath 
that " quidam judices cum ex confiscatione bonorum nihil habere possint, sub 
aliis coloribus vel expensanim, vel vacantiarum aut laborum, in rei veritatem, 
quod abominandum est, et contra justitiam et sequitatem, ita confiscant Reorum 
bona, ut pupilli et viduae non rar6 ad summam necessitatem redigantur." In 
1 591 Nicolas Fiedler did bequeath his property, as is clear from the records of 
his trial. The words of Linden, which have misled Soldan and others, there- 
fore apply, I think, only to those who were banished. But in Flade's case 
the same misunderstanding of his letter which we have noted above (p. 
37) may have served the Elector as a pretext for confiscation. Dr. Kraus, 
I know not on what authority, says that his house at Pfalzel was confiscated. 

'Of March 4, 1591. The original, signed by Johann's own hand, is in codex 
1618. g. of the Trier Stadt-Bibliothek, and a copy of it in codex 1502 of the 
same library. The " Flade-Stif tung " so created still flourishes at Trier. 

* This inventory, cited by Wyttenbach and Miiller in their notes to the Gesta 
Trev., I have not been able to find. They give as its title : " General-Inven- 
tarium aller GUter, so dem Ehrenvesten und Hochgelehrten Herrn Diederichen 
Flade Doctor, Schultheissen zu Trier selbigen zugestanden, welche in seinem 
Hause theils, und im Rathhause zu unterschiedlichen Tagen und Zeiten inven- 
taryrt worden." It is doubtless that of p. 38, note 2, above. 

243] The Fate of Dietrich Flade. 57 

then, that it was his riches that cost him reputation and 
h7e ? What profit, beyond his fees on the trial, could have 
been hoped by Johann Zandt von Merl, it is vain to guess ; 
but, if any still suspect the Jesuits, it will be remembered 
that on them, above all, the wealth of Johann VII. was 

Yet a kindlier conjecture offers itself. " A wealthy per- 
son," says the letter of the Trier Jesuits for 1589, " absolved 
by priests of our order from the crimes of a whole life,' left 
by will a sum of many thousands in gold for the reHef of 
the poverty of needy burghers, monks, and priests, founding 
what is called a mons pietatis." * And it must be added that 
his own mention of his " inheritance " on the morning of 
his death lends something to the likelihood of this solution.* 
May not the Elector have been only the administrator of 
his estate ? 

It is, then, still possible that, as most scholars have be- 
lieved, Dietrich Flade owed his death chiefly, if indirectly, 
to his hesitancy in the persecution of witches. 

Perhaps I have lingered too long over the story of a man 
whom the world has seemed willing to forget. Dietrich 
Flade was not a martyr — ^scarcely even a hero. Little as we 
know of him, it is clear that he died for something less than 
a principle, and flinched at last before the end came. Yet 
it is something to know that, even in that most drearily 
doctrinaire of ages, there lived plodding men of affairs, who, 
spite of dogma and of panic, clung to their common-sense 
and their humanity, and with such firmness as was in them 
breasted the fate that came. 

' " Homo copiosus totius vitae criminibus absolutus, opera nostrorum." 

* One of those establishments for loaning money to the poor, better known 

to us by their French name of monts-de-pi^i/. 

^ He not only speaks of his " hereditat," but directs the payment of his 

debts and of certain gifts, and that * ' wo sichs findt, dass ich etwas unordent- 

lichs oder woecherlichs uffgehaben und empfangen, soil wiederumb gegeben 



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